Archive for March, 2016

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CNET Magazine: Humanizing Tech For You, Your Home, Your Ride, And Your Work. The Print Component Of The Techy Brand That Shows And Helps Readers Detox– The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With CNET Co-Editor In Chief, Connie Guglielmo

March 29, 2016

“So, when you look at all of the various platforms that CNET provides its content to; print was actually a platform that we were not invested in. When we looked at the opportunity to do a print magazine, we thought about it and we realized that the magazine publishing world was going through a challenge, but we do believe that people still like to read some content in print.” Connie Guglielmo

“Since I spend all of my days on the computer and my Smartphone and tablets, if you were to come to my house unexpectedly, you would see a library of books. I have physical paper books, hardcover, softcover, large format, small format books. I inherited a library from some relatives and my husband inherited some from his relatives, so we have lots and lots of books. I live not very far from Apple and not very far from where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak set up the Apple Garage, and I’m surrounded by books because even though I love my technology and I can’t imagine a world without it, I still like paper.” Connie Guglielmo

CNET 1-3 From a television channel 20 years ago, to the web and all things digital, CNET has been the go-to resource for tech lovers when it comes to news and information about the technological trends and products that are being born and used on a minute-by-minute basis in the world of high-tech. The one area that CNET had no presence in however was print. That was rectified with the launch of their ink on paper product in 2014. Since then, the magazine has set out to prove that tech isn’t just for the tech-iest. Average people who may not invent Hoverboards and savvy computer programs do use technology on a daily basis and are very interested in it.

Connie Guglielmo is the magazine’s co-editor in chief and believes that the print product may reach a mainstream consumer that the website might not attract. Connie is a tech user and lover, but also a firm believer in the fact that some people still like to consume their content through ink on paper.

I spoke with her recently about the attempt to take away any of the fear of technology and reach a wider audience with the print magazine. With the spring issue, the magazine highlighted actress Olivia Munn, who is a tech lover and is building a Smart Home of her own. Connie feels that by utilizing celebrities that are more well-known to the mainstream world, a broader spectrum of readers will recognize and relate to the “easy use of technology” train of thought.

And it seems that even those of us who value their digital devices know when it’s time for a cleansing. An article in the most current issue of the magazine talks about the fact that sometimes people need to disconnect from the device-laden world that we live in and perform a “Daily Detox” by switching their phone to airplane mode, writing down their thoughts and reading a book or a magazine. It’s a very interesting world when you evenly mix print and digital and CNET is proving that fact admirably.

So, I hope that you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with a woman who knows the value of technology, but also feels the connection of print and believes that the two together are an unstoppable team that will take the CNET brand to new heights.

But first, the sound-bites:

Connie-Guglielmo On why CNET decided they needed a print component after 20 years on the web: CNET is a media company that covers tech and provides our content in a variety of mediums. When we started out it was actually a cable TV channel; then we went onto the web. We were one of the first to do broadcast-quality video online; of course we do photography and we have a staff of photojournalists, which a lot of news organizations no longer have. We have mobile apps, of course, and we engage in social media. So, when you look at all of the various platforms that CNET provides its content to; print was actually a platform that we were not invested in. When we looked at the opportunity to do a print magazine, we thought about it and we realized that the magazine publishing world was going through a challenge, but we do believe that people still like to read some content in print.

On whether she feels the words news and print have become an oxymoron: When I look for news, there are grades of news. Today’s technology has allowed anybody with access to that technology to create a blogpost and share their opinions, or if they don’t want to get fancy they can just Tweet out their opinions or thoughts. Is that news? It depends. If they’re sharing breaking events and they’re the first to report something that’s happening. You can’t discount all of those ways that news is getting out, but as a consumer of news I can be discriminating about what kind of information is important to me. So, as an editor in chief of a news organization, I tell my staff every day; your job is to report the news. We are not columnists, necessarily. We don’t write commentary unless it’s labeled as commentary.

On the scale she uses to judge what news content is for which platform: We approach the storytelling in the quarterly magazine very differently than we do online. Everything that we write for the magazine is original. It’s not something that we’ve taken online and repurposed, then put in the magazine; although, there have been one or two stories that we have done online and then done a variation of for the magazine. But for the most part, 95% plus of the magazine copy is original.

On whether she feels more like a curator as an editor in today’s world than a creator: No, I think we’re definitely creators, but today’s creators are by default curators because you can’t write about everything. So, we’re by definition picking the stories that we think are most important to our readers, that we think are the ones that we want to tell, because like everyone in the world we have limited resources, so there is that aspect of curating.

On the biggest stumbling block that she’s had to face since the magazine started: I don’t know if it’s a stumbling block, we’re still working on it, but a lot of people associate CNET with being an online brand and don’t think about us as having a print magazine. We distribute our magazine through booksellers and airports and Wal-Mart; just a whole list of places where we are, so brand awareness, making sure that people understand that we’re even doing this and then of course, we have to explain constantly why we’re doing this. And when I do explain to people that we didn’t stop everything else that we’ve been doing and set up a magazine, they get it. Then they understand what we’re doing and that we’re not throwing away 20 years’ experience online and investing our total future in print. Again, that’s just a part of what we do.

On Olivia Munn being on the cover of the spring issue: Our purpose in reaching people who use technology and love technology is to talk about the kind being used today or might be using in the near future and how it might resonate with someone’s life. And Olivia Munn is on the cover of our spring issue, which the focus of that issue is the Smart Home, and she has turned her home into a Smart Home. So she told us a little bit about that. She’s also someone who has been around the tech industry for a while, from a tech culture perspective. People know her and she’s a bit of a controversial figure because she was the co-host of a television show called “Attack of the Show” which was on a video game channel. And some people think that that doesn’t mean she’s a video game player, but she actually is.

On whether they got the idea for the Smart Home that CNET actually owns from Olivia Munn: No, we bought the home last year in Louisville, KY., which is not far from our testing lab, where all of the Smart Home gear that we have is tested. And we’d been testing that gear for many years. We raised the stakes in what we do with the Smart Home by buying an actual home. But that predates any of the magazine work. It’s been in the works for years.

On anything else that she’d like to add: One thing I will say about the magazine is that we have so much content online at CNET, we’ve been doing it for 20 years, so when we approached the magazine; we didn’t want it to be a duplication of what we had online. We wanted it to be a complement to what we do.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: Since I spend all of my days on the computer and my Smartphone and tablets, if you were to come to my house unexpectedly, you would see a library of books. I have physical paper books, hardcover, softcover, large format, small format books. I inherited a library from some relatives and my husband inherited some from his relatives, so we have lots and lots of books.

On what keeps her up at night: You always want the story that no one thought of and so I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and I have a pen that lights up and I write in a notebook, or I talk and dictate notes into my device; I have story ideas all of the time. That’s my biggest worry and concern, but it’s also the fun and challenge of being an editor and a reporter, chasing the stories that no one has thought to write.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Connie Guglielmo, Editor In Chief, CNET Magazine.

Samir Husni: CNET magazine launched in November, 2014, but it’s been in the digital sphere for 20 years before that. Why did the powers-that-be at CNET decide they needed an ink on paper entity in addition to what the brand had been doing with pixels on a screen?

CNET 2-4 Connie Guglielmo: You’re right; CNET has been covering technology for 20 years. We actually celebrated our 20th anniversary last year. It’s important to understand why we’re doing print and that we’re coming at it from a completely different perspective than most publishers. Many people are in the business of producing a magazine and they have the staff and they build their resources around being able to produce a print publication and they rise and fall on the success of that print magazine.

CNET is a media company that covers tech and provides our content in a variety of mediums. When we started out it was actually a cable TV channel; then we went onto the web. We were one of the first to do broadcast-quality video online; of course we do photography and we have a staff of photojournalists, which a lot of news organizations no longer have. We have mobile apps, of course, and we engage in social media.

So, when you look at all of the various platforms that CNET provides its content to; print was actually a platform that we were not invested in. When we looked at the opportunity to do a print magazine, we thought about it and we realized that the magazine publishing world was going through a challenge, but we do believe that people still like to read some content in print. So, that’s why we produce a quarterly magazine. We’re not monthly or weekly; we’re quarterly. And that creates a cadence in how we produce the content.

We went with a premium quality magazine and we’re also trying to expand our brand and presence to the larger world and so the publication is very consumer-focused. It’s all about tech, but it’s very concerned with the consumer, which unlike some of the other tech magazines out there, they cater to their specific tech niche. You have some magazines that are for the digital audience; you have coders and tinkers; you have gamers; we are completely consumer-focused. So that makes us very different in the marketplace.

It was a combination of all of those things; providing our content to a new platform that we were not in, recognizing that we needed to approach it in the right way; quarterly and very high-quality. And we needed to represent the market audience that we wanted to attract, in terms of our quality and that consumer audience.

I’ll just say one other thing and that is, if in a couple of years refrigerators turn out to be a medium for content…

Samir Husni: (Laughs)

Connie Guglielmo: …we’ll produce our content and have it served up so that you can read our stories through your refrigerator. We’re platform agnostic. It’s all about the reader and how they want to consume content. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have pursued all of the different channels and opportunities that we have. So, mobile, obviously, is a big thing for us; it’s very big today and it’s going to be big tomorrow. If you’d asked me 10 years ago if the tech world would want to read news off of the refrigerator; I’m a Star Trek fan, so I would have probably said yes, it makes sense. Now, the general population probably wouldn’t think that, but to us it’s just another channel to reach people.

And our business doesn’t rise and fall on the print product. We didn’t go out and hire a whole new staff and invest in a whole new production system for this magazine. These are CNET resources that we’re just bringing to bear in a different way to produce the magazine.

Samir Husni: As CNET’s news editor in chief, do you feel the words news and print have become an oxymoron?

Connie Guglielmo: (Laughs) I think that’s probably a conversation that every news editor in the United States has had every decade for the past 100 years. How do you define news? Has the definition of news changed over the years? Yes and no.

I started covering technology right out of school and desktop publishing was just coming to the fore and anybody with a MAC computer and PageMaker could produce a newsletter. And what a big deal that was. You didn’t have to have any big print investment; anybody could do it with a couple of fonts, a printer and some stamps and there you go.

Did that change the quality of news? It changed the volume; there’s a lot more content, but I’m of the opinion that information is valuable and adds something to your life. I read a lot of books; I love fiction and non-fiction.

When I look for news, there are grades of news. Today’s technology has allowed anybody with access to that technology to create a blogpost and share their opinions, or if they don’t want to get fancy they can just Tweet out their opinions or thoughts. Is that news? It depends. If they’re sharing breaking events and they’re the first to report something that’s happening. You can’t discount all of those ways that news is getting out, but as a consumer of news I can be discriminating about what kind of information is important to me.

So, as an editor in chief of a news organization, I tell my staff every day; your job is to report the news. We are not columnists, necessarily. We don’t write commentary unless it’s labeled as commentary. Our job is to go out and report the facts, call people, flesh out the information, write it in a way that everyone can understand what’s going on. And that’s different from someone who is just reacting to a news event and sharing their opinion.

If you think there’s value in news and if you think there’s a skill and a craft and art to collecting information and putting it together in a story, then your estimation of news is going to be different than someone else’s. And I was one of those people who cheered when “Spotlight” won the movie of the year at the Oscars. The whole room stood up when one of the producers I believe said, it shows the value of journalism as a craft, that there is a reason to have people who know how to interview and collect information and produce meaningful copy. And I agree with that.

Samir Husni: Your words are music to my ears, because I also teach journalism and I tell people all of the time: all you have to do is watch CNN or Fox for a couple of hours and you begin to wonder what’s going on in journalism these days.

Connie Guglielmo: (Laughs) Again, it depends on what you’re looking for and what you value. As somebody who’s trained as a journalist, I have a graduate degree in journalism; I approach the way that I do my job differently than someone who might just want to write a fun, informational piece based on their point of view.

I’m not saying that that’s not valuable and that people are not interested in that kind of commentary. I love to read op-ed commentary when it’s informed and it’s teaching me something that I don’t know, or something new that I would have not known about. But again, it’s like anything else, where is your line? Where does it cross? There are probably many movies that someone else would watch that I wouldn’t be interested in. Just like there are many stories and books that I would read that other people wouldn’t.

So, having that diversity is important, in terms of news reporting, but I do think the most important thing to remember is, just because you can write something doesn’t make you a news reporter or a journalist. Hitting that high bar in that service to the reader is vital.

Samir Husni: And how do you take those standards and apply them to the minute-by-minute news coverage, such as on CNET News, and in a quarterly magazine? How do you balance or juggle between the moment-by-moment and the quarter-by-quarter? What’s the scale you use to judge which content is for which platform?

cnet spred-2 Connie Guglielmo: We approach the storytelling in the quarterly magazine very differently than we do online. Everything that we write for the magazine is original. It’s not something that we’ve taken online and repurposed, then put in the magazine; although, there have been one or two stories that we have done online and then done a variation of for the magazine. But for the most part, 95% plus of the magazine copy is original.

When you’re writing for that cadence, you’re approaching storytelling in a very different way than you are when you’re reacting to daily news. And I’ve worked at magazines in the past before I joined CNET; I worked at Forbes for two years and before that I worked at Bloomberg, which is a wire service; talk about minute-by-minute, and I worked there for almost seven years, so you do balance how you tell the story, but I don’t think that’s any different than any journalist would do. If you’re writing a book of poetry, you write your poems following a certain format. But if you’re writing Haiku, that’s a very short format.

So, when you look at the kind of content that we produce on a daily basis, a lot of it is reaction to news or getting ahead of the news or commenting on news, but we also do long-form and feature online.

For the magazine, we have to tell stories in one, two, or three pages, because you’re constrained by print, so we started to experiment with the very first issue on storytelling and if you’ve seen the first issue of CNET magazine, if you go into the magazine to two stories, one is called “Confessions of a Smartphone Thief,” and we worked with the San Francisco District Attorney for months to interview this thief who had stolen iPhones to hear his side of the story about why he did it and what happened to the iPhones after he took them and etc.

The story in the magazine is two pages and about 1,100 words. But the original story that he reported is 2,500 words, so if you look at the story in print, it gives you a link to the longer version of the story. So, we’re not bound by the limitations of the magazine, in terms of telling the story in so many words, because the longer version is online and we posted the 1,100 word version in the magazine. And that gives readers a choice. If they think the story is interesting, they can go and read the longer version of it. Some people never see the magazine, so they see the story online.

Then there was our interview with the cover candidate and for that first issue it was LL Cool J. We did a story about people being captured by their devices and we did a Q & A with him and we posted a video of him talking about what he’d told us in the interview. So, if you go to the print magazine you’ll find the link that takes you to the video.

With every magazine we’re trying to connect the online and print well to our advantage. If we can tell a story in a certain way online and then do it differently and have connections to the print, and vice versa, that’s great.

When we look at the magazine and plan out an issue, we do think about the space; the timing, something has to stand up if it’s been written two months before we go to print. So, it’s different, the feature approach. Again, because we have the tie-back to the online world, we can estimate and also do sidebars; we can do video; we can do infographics. We can enrich that content in any way we want. So, in that case, we’re not bound by the limitations of print. All we have to do is include a link in the magazine that takes you back to a page and then we can access that page at will whenever we want.

Samir Husni: Do you feel that now you’re more of a curator than a creator when it comes to content?

Connie Guglielmo: No, I think we’re definitely creators, but today’s creators are by default curators because you can’t write about everything. So, we’re by definition picking the stories that we think are most important to our readers, that we think are the ones that we want to tell, because like everyone in the world we have limited resources, so there is that aspect of curating.

But also the content that we produce is original, and occasionally we will link out to other people’s excellent journalism just to provide a service to our reader or we’ll link back to stories that we think adds a depth of content that helps our reporting, but we’re out there originally reporting every single day.

Samir Husni: What has been the biggest stumbling block that you’ve had to face since the magazine started and how did you overcome it?

Connie Guglielmo: I don’t know if it’s a stumbling block, we’re still working on it, but a lot of people associate CNET with being an online brand and don’t think about us as having a print magazine. We distribute our magazine through booksellers and airports and Wal-Mart; just a whole list of places where we are, so brand awareness, making sure that people understand that we’re even doing this and then of course, we have to explain constantly why we’re doing this. And when I do explain to people that we didn’t stop everything else that we’ve been doing and set up a magazine, they get it. Then they understand what we’re doing and that we’re not throwing away 20 years’ experience online and investing our total future in print. Again, that’s just a part of what we do.

So, telling that story and making sure that people understand that what we’re doing makes sense and then just raising awareness, which is why we’ve taken the tack that we have with our cover candidate, which you’ll see, they’re not your traditional tech industry people. They’re more mainstream celebrities that people know and identify with. And the point in doing that was so that we could show that these people use tech; it’s not the scary topic that I should be afraid of. So, we wanted to have a wider appeal and that’s why we went with celebrities on the cover. It’s telling the story and making sure that people understand the story. And that continues to be our top priority.

Samir Husni: You keep emphasizing, and rightfully so, that you’re putting the audience first, that you’re more of a consumer magazine, rather than a techy magazine. Tell me about Olivia Munn on the cover of your spring issue.

Connie Guglielmo: Again, our purpose in reaching people who use technology and love technology is to talk about the kind being used today or might be using in the near future and how it might resonate with someone’s life. And Olivia Munn is on the cover of our spring issue, which the focus of that issue is the Smart Home, and she has turned her home into a Smart Home. So she told us a little bit about that.

She’s also someone who has been around the tech industry for a while, from a tech culture perspective. People know her and she’s a bit of a controversial figure because she was the co-host of a television show called “Attack of the Show” which was on a video game channel. And some people think that that doesn’t mean she’s a video game player, but she actually is. She was raised with video games and she likes to play with technology. She talked to us about why she doesn’t like Apple products and prefers Microsoft and she talked about the tech that she would like to see in the future. And a spoiler is that she’s very disappointed that we don’t have Hoverboards like in the movie “Back to the Future,” ones that you could actually hover on, which she would love to do above Los Angeles traffic.

So, our goal in using her as our cover candidate was because she is connected to the world of tech in a way that most average people are connected. They use technology and add it to their home, they have Smart-tech in their cars and they use tech services; they have a point of view about entertainment. So, even though she is a celebrity, she’s more aligned with how the average person might use tech than say, Mark Zuckerberg.

Samir Husni: Did you get the idea for the CNET tech home that you built, the Smart Home in Louisville, Kentucky; did you get the idea from Olivia Munn?

Connie Guglielmo: No, we bought the home last year in Louisville, KY., which is not far from our testing lab, where all of the Smart Home gear that we have is tested. And we’d been testing that gear for many years. We raised the stakes in what we do with the Smart Home by buying an actual home. But that predates any of the magazine work. It’s been in the works for years.

And the gamble was in actually buying the house so that we could make it a living lab, not just say that this is how it’s supposed to work with the house, because we have been doing that. We have these rooms set up with filtration systems, temperature controls, test refrigerators and thermostats, but we wanted to use them in a real world environment, because that’s how you test all products.

That was why we made the investment in the Smart Home and I would say that the reaction from some of the people that we’ve talked to is they like to live in a Smart Home. Sofia Vergara was on our cover last spring for the Smart Home issue and she’s also building a Smart Home for herself in Los Angeles. She talked at length about the kinds of entertainment systems that she wanted incorporated in her home and the security system.

So, all of this predates Olivia Munn. Although, Olivia had a lot of fun ideas, but I’m sorry, I can’t give her credit for this one. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Well, what got my attention was the robotic lawn mower. (Laughs)

Connie Guglielmo: (Laughs too) Well, we’re testing all kinds of technology here. And like I said, 10 or 20 years ago, would anyone have thought of a Smart thermostat or a Smart lock? But if you believed in the vision of the future and that everything was going to be connected, you might. We saw it coming and we saw that it was going to be real and not just a Sci-Fi futuristic kind of thing, which is why we started testing years ago and made the investment in an actual house. The idea was to have a real world place to test products so that everyone could see what was right and what was wrong.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Connie Guglielmo: One thing I will say about the magazine is that we have so much content online at CNET, we’ve been doing it for 20 years, so when we approached the magazine; we didn’t want it to be a duplication of what we had online. We wanted it to be a complement to what we do.

So, we thought about that in the ways that I shared with you; about how we could tie online and print and extend our coverage, but even in our Buying Guide, which is a big part of every issue, rather than just saying here are the Top 10 Smartphones or tablets, we have the Guide online too, but we broke it down by price for the Buying Guide in print, because a lot of people look at technology by price. And we did it in a way that we thought would be helpful to our readers. So, if they want to look at it online, they could. We didn’t have to reproduce it all in the magazine; we just let it complement what we have online. It’s not a duplicate. And that’s what we did throughout the magazine and I’m very proud that we did that.

And also in how we organized the magazine, a lot of people have features about technology for technology’s sake, and I’m not saying that’s not valid, but our approach was about people and how they use tech, so we have the magazine divided into four main sections: you; your house; your car; your work, because those are the four main areas that technology is going to touch you in your life. And every story we write slots into one of those categories by default because that’s how you use tech in your life.

We’re trying to put the “you,” the personal back into technology, because there are a lot of stories written about technology and I’ve been writing about them for more than 20 years myself. But the thing that we have to remember is technology is no longer this niche thing that only a few people touch; it is a part of everything that we do, every single day. And it’s important to remember that the technology is one thing, but it’s really how you use it that is the most important thing. Is it meaningful to you as a person? Can you integrate into your life? We wanted to remind people that “you” are the center of tech, not tech at the center.

Samir Husni: If I showed up at your home one evening unexpectedly, what would I find you doing, reading a magazine; reading your iPad; watching television; or something else?

Connie Guglielmo: Since I spend all of my days on the computer and my Smartphone and tablets, if you were to come to my house unexpectedly, you would see a library of books. I have physical paper books, hardcover, softcover, large format, small format books. I inherited a library from some relatives and my husband inherited some from his relatives, so we have lots and lots of books. I live not very far from Apple and not very far from where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak set up the Apple Garage, and I’m surrounded by books because even though I love my technology and I can’t imagine a world without it, I still like paper.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Connie Guglielmo: These days I sleep pretty well. Generally speaking, I’m always looking to make sure that our team is working on the next interesting story and not the same stories that everyone else is chasing. I like us to do original reporting that is slightly different from the conventional wisdom, that’s how you stay ahead as a journalist.

You always want the story that no one thought of and so I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and I have a pen that lights up and I write in a notebook, or I talk and dictate notes into my device; I have story ideas all of the time. That’s my biggest worry and concern, but it’s also the fun and challenge of being an editor and a reporter, chasing the stories that no one has thought to write.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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The Surfer’s Journal Rides That Silver Wave As The Magazine Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Brendon Thomas, Publisher, The Surfer’s Journal

March 25, 2016

“Print has a purpose in that you can still hold it and really experience the story and the imagery. It’s something that you can feel in your hands. But it’s also something that, with a high-end publication like The Surfer’s Journal, it’s something that exists in space and it can sit on your coffee table and really says something about you as a person. You can put your passion on display for your friends who come over to your house and it let people know who you are and what our interests are.” Brendon Thomas

“The same way that we see people cultivate their personas on social media by the things they share and what they like and what they say, print media says a lot about you as a person too when you interact with people in the real world. So, I think print will always have a place in people’s lives and as I said in the beginning, with so much time spent on digital devices, there is a need to unplug and disconnect at times and print is the natural place for that to happen.” Brendon Thomas

TSJ-25_1-Cover Anytime a magazine can celebrate 25 years of publishing success in today’s marketplace is truly a rare and remarkable milestone. The Surfer’s Journal is enjoying that landmark anniversary and deservedly so.

The Surfer’s Journal is a purist surf publication based in San Clemente, California and has always had a truly unique, venerated, and commercially successful product by being a circulation-driven publication rather than relying on advertisers to support the magazine. The idea of having readers subscribe to a pre-sold quarterly book novel, and having only six advertisers may have seemed unsustainable at a time when the goal of most publications was to increase the number of advertising pages, not curb them, but a quarter century later, The Surfer’s Journal remains commercially successful and has a definite eye on the future.

I recently spoke with publisher, Brendon Thomas, about the magazine’s 25th anniversary and the fact that The Surfer’s Journal has found and continues to grow a dedicated and passionate readership that sees the value in the tactile, print experience that the magazine offers. Brendon said this is due in large part to the exceptional in-depth, long form storytelling and superb photography that fills each issue.

But Brendon’s goal for the magazine is to continue the path that has already been set; to turn the magazine into a larger, stronger brand with many extensions, such as The Surfer’s Journal online store which lives on the website and offers readers a diverse array of high-end wall prints and other unique items.

So, grab your board and get ready to hang 10 or 25 in honor of The Surfer’s Journal’s silver anniversary as we open up the discussion with Publisher, Brendon Thomas.

But first, the sound-bites:

IMG_9808 On what the role of a publisher is in a circulation-driven magazine: We’re a really small outfit, so the publisher wears a lot of hats, from marketing to sourcing the material to overseeing the editorial, so there are a lot of things that a publisher does. I also handle what a normal publisher would do, since we’re so small. There are still advertising relations that have to be maintained and upheld.

On the trend of new launches following The Surfer’s Journal business model: We get a lot of calls from startups asking how we do it and what our business model is. It’s very simple really. We’ve put the reader first for 25 years and I think in the current digital age there really is a renewed demand for a quality print publication, something that can sit around on your coffee table for a couple of months as opposed to being discarded after a day or two or put in the bathroom.

On the role of print in today’s digital age: That experience satisfies something within people. We’re all looking down at our Smartphones constantly and reading quick hits and really short articles. There seems to be a growing need in people to disconnect and unplug for a time. And longer form print publications seem to be a good way to do that. As of yet, people can’t just sit and meditate and stare into space; they still need something to do in their down time. So, reading about their passion, in our case surfing, is a great way to do that.

On the advice he would give to someone who wanted to start a new print magazine today: I would certainly encourage them to go for it. Digital, as much as it has done harm to print, it has also opened up avenues to reach potential readers in a way that we’ve never had before. The marketing possibilities are huge.

On whether the magazine is making more money or less money since the dawn of the digital age: I would say more, because the avenues for a magazine like The Surfer’s Journal have grown. It’s not just a print publication; it’s a brand. And the readers who are passionate about this brand want the other accessories that come along with the brand, such as the merchandise we offer: the art of collaboration T-shirts with The Surfer’s Journal limited edition runs and our online store where we sell master image prints, which are really high-end wall hangers and because we have a really good rapport with our readers, they trust us to kind of show them what else is out there.

On why the Pezman’s vision is even more sustainable today than it was 25 years ago when they founded the magazine: It has a lot to do with surfing itself. The Pezman’s started this publication with the idea that it was going to come from a purist’s point of view of the sport, so it appealed to people who didn’t want to see the sport of surfing get overrun by commercialization and brands. And people connected with it back then. The message of the publication was on-point back in 1992 and it’s just as much on-point now in 2016.

On what’s being done to expand the brand and make it more of a household name: We’re not really interested in chasing digital views or readers; we did just relaunch our website with a completely new redesign from the ground up. The goal of the website is not to get clicks; we’re not after eyeballs in that way. Our website is a vehicle to sell subscriptions and to promote The Surfer’s Journal as a print product. And it’s also a place for the converted and for people who love our brand to purchase items in our company store. From The Surfer’s Journal point of view, that’s our goal with digital.

On why he thinks it took magazine companies and publishers so long to figure out that devices like the iPad and entities like the homepage were not the salvation of magazines and magazine media: With every immersion into technology there’s a lot of hype and promise. And I would say that I’m not entirely sure most publishers have realized that fact yet, nor should they, depending on their business model. If they’re advertising-driven and they want eyeballs on their own property, then the websites are the place where they can get the most eyeballs. More eyeballs than they can get in print.

On how easy it is these days for editors and publishers to change places: I think it would certainly be easier for an editor to become a publisher, especially now, as I mentioned with native advertising, and editors are kind of tasked with thinking about revenue generation as opposed to just generating editorial. Editors today are being groomed more in the business side of things than they were in the past. As for my move from Surfer magazine where I was editor in chief to publisher at The Surfer’s Journal, the move made a lot of sense to me personally, because that church and state separation is something that a lot of editors hold dear. And The Journal does that so well; there is no crossover at all.

On what he feels the role of print is in a digital age: Human beings exist in the real world and we have interactions with other people in person. As much as we’re connected through digital media and social media and through our phones; we still interact in the real world. And I think interacting with a magazine is a different experience than interacting with something on your Smartphone or your computer. Print has a purpose in that you can still hold it and really experience the story and the imagery. It’s something that you can feel in your hands.

On anything else he’d like to add: We’re all so incredibly proud and grateful that we’ve made it to 25 years. We’re grateful to our readers who have supported us for so long and are really fanatical about getting their magazines every two months. We’re totally indebted to them, so a big thank you to all of them is all I really have to add.

On the high-end subscription price of $66 per year: You really have to work hard to convince people to part with roughly $17 per issue; it’s not an easy sell. And the benefits of the globalization of media and in having this niche to market to people is that we can reach a lot of international subscribers, but the strength of the dollar at the moment makes the proposition of subscribing to The Surfer’s Journal something you really have to think about. And yet, we’re still seeing growth in our international subscriptions.

On what motivates him to get out of bed in the morning: It’s very easy for me to get out of the bed in the morning because there are so many possibilities that are in front of me and all of us here at The Surfer’s Journal, because we’ve been so focused on our print product and we really haven’t explored any of the other opportunities that The Surfer’s Journal as a brand opens up. I’m really excited about all of the things that the magazine can still be.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up at his home unexpectedly one evening: reading a print magazine, or an iPad, watching television, or something else: This is a bad time to ask that because I have a newborn at home, so if you catch me there I’m probably tending to a crying baby. (Laughs) I’ve subscribed to a lot of print magazines over the years. I’m a magazine guy and that’s what I’ve been for a long time. So, I have magazines all over the place. I read the actual print product and I read them on my iPad. I follow them on social media, so depending on what time of the day you get me; you’ll see me doing any one of the three.

On what keeps him up at night: (Laughs) You know the answer to that one. It certainly isn’t work. I’m really lucky in that The Surfer’s Journal is so stable and it has been for 25 years and it isn’t something that keeps me up at night wondering if we’re going to keep the subscriber base up and if we know how to survive in this new digital era. That isn’t a problem for The Surfer’s Journal now. Just the crying baby is. (Laughs again)

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Brendon Thomas, Publisher, The Surfer’s Journal.

Samir Husni: After 25 years The Surfer’s Journal is still alive and kicking and enjoying a good life, with a business model that is more circulation-driven, than advertising-driven. That being said, what’s the role of a publisher in a circulation-driven magazine?

TSJ_25.1_a Brendon Thomas: We’re a really small outfit, so the publisher wears a lot of hats, from marketing to sourcing the material to overseeing the editorial, so there are a lot of things that a publisher does. I also handle what a normal publisher would do, since we’re so small. There are still advertising relations that have to be maintained and upheld. We have six sponsors that go into the magazine, so there is that aspect to it as well, which obviously helps absorb some costs. The goal is to drive some revenue, as is the goal of most publishers.

Samir Husni: Just in the last six months I’ve spoken with two or three publishers who have launched new magazines and it seems that everybody wants to follow The Surfer’s Journal business model.

Brendon Thomas: Yes, we’ve noticed that ourselves. We get a lot of calls from startups asking how we do it and what our business model is. It’s very simple really. We’ve put the reader first for 25 years and I think in the current digital age there really is a renewed demand for a quality print publication, something that can sit around on your coffee table for a couple of months as opposed to being discarded after a day or two or put in the bathroom.

We’ve seen that there are a number of lifestyle magazines, for example, the Kinfolk’s of the world, that are doing very well based on the fact that they’re almost an accessory as much as they are something to read.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the role of print today in a digital age and that connectivity that The Surfer’s Journal has with its readers. Is it that easy for others to imitate your business model and have the same success?

Brendon Thomas: No, I wouldn’t say it’s easy. It’s definitely a challenge. With the decline in newsstand and bookstores closing left and right, the avenues to get the print product into people’s hands has definitely shifted. And that’s part of the selling point for a magazine like The Surfer’s Journal. It’s a tactile experience and once you feel it and hold it, you really understand what it’s all about.

So, that experience satisfies something within people. We’re all looking down at our Smartphones constantly and reading quick hits and really short articles. There seems to be a growing need in people to disconnect and unplug for a time. And longer form print publications seem to be a good way to do that. As of yet, people can’t just sit and meditate and stare into space; they still need something to do in their down time. So, reading about their passion, in our case surfing, is a great way to do that.

Samir Husni: If someone approached you today and said that they wanted to start a new print magazine, based on your own experience, what would you tell them?

Brendon Thomas: I would certainly encourage them to go for it. Digital, as much as it has done harm to print, it has also opened up avenues to reach potential readers in a way that we’ve never had before. The marketing possibilities are huge.

And as Steve and Debbee Pezman (Founders of The Surfer’s Journal) keep telling me, you can’t start a new magazine without a list of people to market to from the get-go, because you really need readers in a reader-supported market and getting those readers from the start is really important to the success of your publication.

And depending on how you want to slash the advertising model, you can get a couple of brands that back your idea and believe in it and that will go a long way in helping you get off the ground.

Samir Husni: When it comes to money and revenues; since the dawn of the digital age, are you making more money or less money?

Brendon Thomas: I would say more, because the avenues for a magazine like The Surfer’s Journal have grown. It’s not just a print publication; it’s a brand. And the readers who are passionate about this brand want the other accessories that come along with the brand, such as the merchandise we offer: the art of collaboration T-shirts with The Surfer’s Journal limited edition runs and our online store where we sell master image prints, which are really high-end wall hangers and because we have a really good rapport with our readers, they trust us to kind of show them what else is out there. And that’s what we’ve been able to do. So, I would say that the revenue has increased, for sure.

And magazine-wise, it’s a tough one because, and I’m talking about the print artifact now, it’s kind of tough because the costs for printing are perpetually going up and we can’t keep asking our subscribers to pay more and more for the subscription. We’re a relatively high-end publication at $66 per year. So we work hard to try and keep that price down and still deliver the same quality to our readers.

Samir Husni: As you celebrate the magazine’s 25th anniversary, is there anything else you’d like to add about the concept of the magazine or the vision that the Pezman’s had 25 years ago and why that vision is still sustainable or even more so in today’s marketplace?

5A1B10E5-E3FB-457E-B90F-F7C46359A3DF@home Brendon Thomas: It has a lot to do with surfing itself. The Pezman’s started this publication with the idea that it was going to come from a purist’s point of view of the sport, so it appealed to people who didn’t want to see the sport of surfing get overrun by commercialization and brands. And people connected with it back then.

And I think it’s truer and more needed now than ever before. As more and more people surf and the lineups around the world get more and more crowded, there’s definitely a yearning in surfer’s to kind of appreciate the purist’s point of view and surfing for surfing’s sake as opposed to surfing for a commercialized version of surfing. So, people really connect with the Journal’s message. Our reader base is passionate about surfing and they’re passionate about retaining the qualities that it had when they first started and what got them into it.

The message of the publication was on-point back in 1992 and it’s just as much on-point now in 2016. I would say that the biggest reason that we’ve been sustainable is that we connect with our readership in a way that few publications can.

As far as celebrating our 25th year, we’re certainly not resting on our laurels here. We realize that it’s a tough marketplace and we’ve been fortunate enough to be kind of exempt from the hardships of print that some of the other publications have been experiencing. But we also realize that there are a lot of avenues that we haven’t tapped into and there are a lot of opportunities that we haven’t jumped at so far. And there’s always room for the print publication to improve as well, so we’re constantly looking to do that.

Samir Husni: Is there room for you to duplicate that model? What are you doing to help expand that brand or to take it from just the magazine to a magazine media brand that everybody will be talking about?

Brendon Thomas: We’re not really interested in chasing digital views or readers; we did just relaunch our website with a completely new redesign from the ground up. The goal of the website is not to get clicks; we’re not after eyeballs in that way. Our website is a vehicle to sell subscriptions and to promote The Surfer’s Journal as a print product. And it’s also a place for the converted and for people who love our brand to purchase items in our company store. From The Surfer’s Journal point of view, that’s our goal with digital.

We’ve had huge hits in social media, but our goal in social media is to drive conversions into subscribers, so every piece of editorial we put out is an attempt to advertise the quality of our editorial, rather than to just have people come onto our website for being on our website’s sake.

The Surfer’s Journal does have both a French and a Japanese version of the magazine, which I think is very interesting and a testament to the brand’s success.

Samir Husni: Recently I was at a conference where I heard that the homepage is dead; the tablet is dead; everything is now all about social, videos and notifications. You mentioned that your website is more of a marketing tool rather than a content provider. Why do you think it took the magazine companies and publishers so long to discover that? That the iPad was not the salvation of the media; the homepage was not the salvation of magazines; why do you think it took them so long to figure that out?

TSJJ_6-1_cover Brendon Thomas: With every immersion into technology there’s a lot of hype and promise. And I would say that I’m not entirely sure most publishers have realized that fact yet, nor should they, depending on their business model. If they’re advertising-driven and they want eyeballs on their own property, then the websites are the place where they can get the most eyeballs. More eyeballs than they can get in print.

I basically came from Surfer magazine where I was the editor in chief for five years. And I watched the transition from print to digital and then from banner ads to native advertising and it’s a big shift for editors to have to undertake, but it’s become kind of the new normal. Native advertising and all that is really a way that most publishers are realizing revenue online. It’s a far better CPM than banner ads.

So, I don’t think that the websites are purely marketing tools for publishers and in some cases when the print product isn’t that strong, then yes, it might even be a salvation for some of those print products, where they can reinvent themselves online and let people know what they’re about. But from my own personal experiences, when I’m unaware of a publication, the website is the first place where I go to see what they’re about. If I happen to run into an interesting story on social media and it takes me to a site that I’m unfamiliar with, then that website and that editorial is my first impression of that brand, and whether I subscribe that day or five years later, those impressions matter. And I certainly don’t think the website is dead; it still influences people and enlightens them as to what you’re about.

Samir Husni: You’ve been both an editor and a publisher; do you think that we’re reaching the stage where, like some describe the destruction of the wall between church and state, editors can easily become publishers? And would it be as easy for a publisher to become an editor?

Brendon Thomas: No, I don’t think so. I think it would certainly be easier for an editor to become a publisher, especially now, as I mentioned with native advertising, and editors are kind of tasked with thinking about revenue generation as opposed to just generating editorial. Editors today are being groomed more in the business side of things than they were in the past.

As for my move from Surfer magazine where I was editor in chief to publisher at The Surfer’s Journal, the move made a lot of sense to me personally, because that church and state separation is something that a lot of editors hold dear. And The Journal does that so well; there is no crossover at all. The sponsors have no say in the editorial and they don’t want a say in the editorial. They just want us to create a beautiful book every two months.

So, it was very attractive for me to come over to The Journal because it’s still very much that way here. But from where I was and what I saw in the industry, I would say editors are increasingly publishers. They’re taking meetings with clients; they’re coming up with editorial ideas that can benefit their clients, especially in our world of action sports and the niche markets.

I would say that you’re probably going to see an increased amount of editors becoming publishers or they’re just going to be all kind of rolled up into one job.

Samir Husni: Can you define for me what you believe the role of print is in a digital age?

Brendon Thomas: Human beings exist in the real world and we have interactions with other people in person. As much as we’re connected through digital media and social media and through our phones; we still interact in the real world. And I think interacting with a magazine is a different experience than interacting with something on your Smartphone or your computer.

Print has a purpose in that you can still hold it and really experience the story and the imagery. It’s something that you can feel in your hands. But it’s also something that, with a high-end publication like The Surfer’s Journal, it’s something that exists in space and it can sit on your coffee table and really says something about you as a person. You can put your passion on display for your friends who come over to your house and it let people know who you are and what our interests are.

The same way that we see people cultivate their personas on social media by the things they share and what they like and what they say, print media says a lot about you as a person too when you interact with people in the real world.

So, I think print will always have a place in people’s lives and as I said in the beginning, with so much time spent on digital devices, there is a need to unplug and disconnect at times and print is the natural place for that to happen.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Brendon Thomas: We’re all so incredibly proud and grateful that we’ve made it to 25 years. We’re grateful to our readers who have supported us for so long and are really fanatical about getting their magazines every two months. We’re totally indebted to them, so a big thank you to all of them is all I really have to add.

Samir Husni: When one issue of The Surfer’s Journal is more expensive than an entire year’s subscription of some other magazines, you know that you’re connecting with your audience.

Brendon Thomas: Exactly. And you really have to work hard to convince people to part with roughly $17 per issue; it’s not an easy sell. And the benefits of the globalization of media and in having this niche to market to people is that we can reach a lot of international subscribers, but the strength of the dollar at the moment makes the proposition of subscribing to The Surfer’s Journal something you really have to think about. And yet, we’re still seeing growth in our international subscriptions.

And right now our international subscriptions are $108 and in many places where the currency isn’t as strong as the U.S. dollar, that $108 is easily a $150 in that local currency. So, it’s amazing to see people still willing to fork out what is a lot of money for a publication, but they believe in it and enjoy it so much that they just have to have it. It’s awesome.

Samir Husni: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

Brendon Thomas: I’m in the enviable position of being fairly new to my position here at The Surfer’s Journal. I’ve only been the publisher for a couple of months. I was the operations director before that. And as I said, I was at Surfer’s magazine before coming onboard here.

It’s very easy for me to get out of the bed in the morning because there are so many possibilities that are in front of me and all of us here at The Surfer’s Journal, because we’ve been so focused on our print product and we really haven’t explored any of the other opportunities that The Surfer’s Journal as a brand opens up. I’m really excited about all of the things that the magazine can still be.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening, what would I find you doing? Reading a print magazine, or your iPad, watching television, or something else?

Brendon Thomas: This is a bad time to ask that because I have a newborn at home, so if you catch me there I’m probably tending to a crying baby. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Brendon Thomas: I’ve subscribed to a lot of print magazines over the years. I’m a magazine guy and that’s what I’ve been for a long time. So, I have magazines all over the place. I read the actual print product and I read them on my iPad. I follow them on social media, so depending on what time of the day you get me; you’ll see me doing any one of the three.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Brendon Thomas: (Laughs) You know the answer to that one. It certainly isn’t work. I’m really lucky in that The Surfer’s Journal is so stable and it has been for 25 years and it isn’t something that keeps me up at night wondering if we’re going to keep the subscriber base up and if we know how to survive in this new digital era. That isn’t a problem for The Surfer’s Journal now. Just the crying baby is. (Laughs again)

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

James and Lisa Cohen: Putting Their Money Where Their Mouths And Passions Are. The Launch Story Of Galerie Magazine And The Role And Future Of Print & The Newsstands In A Digital Age – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With The Owners Of Hudson News Distribution Company and Founders Of The New Galerie Magazine.

March 22, 2016

The cover of the first issue of Galerie magazine premiering this April.

The cover of the first issue of Galerie magazine premiering this April.

“Magazines should play the role of something that is, even though it might be readily available in alternative formats, visually stimulating, so that it is more pleasing. It has to have a particular niche, whether it’s a food magazine or an art magazine or a design magazine, and it has to talk to people in a way that you just can’t really get digitally. It has to fulfill a need. Let’s face it; the medium we’re talking about is a totally visual medium. And that’s what print does best.” James Cohen

“With magazines it’s about the experience and even the younger people want that. It’s just a different kind of experience.” Lisa Cohen

“The few publishers who have had the courage to print new magazines, and of course Hearst is the shining example, because they’ve come up with three winners in the last four or five years, that shows if you have the courage of your convictions and if you have a niche and you can find the right audience and publish something that people want to read, then there should be a future here.” (On the future of the newsstands) James Cohen

James and Lisa Cohen Photo by  Matt Albiani

James and Lisa Cohen
Photo by Matt Albiani

The passion of art and the intricacies of design come together to create a beautiful new upscale magazine called Galerie that is set to launch in April. The magazine was founded by Lisa and James Cohen, the owners of Hudson News, one of North America’s largest and oldest independent wholesalers of periodicals. The Cohens have been in the magazine industry their whole lives, and Lisa, founder and editorial director, had always wanted to publish a magazine that would make art approachable and showcase it in a lifestyle context. They are also passionate collectors, and feel with Galerie they are tapping into an audience they personally know and that has an insatiable interest for both art and design.

However, Galerie is not a typical design publication. Here the art might drive the decor as opposed to most shelter magazines where the design comes first – the philosophy is that art and design are equal. Their mission is for the magazine to become the platform for emerging and established artists and designers to showcase their work and ideas.

I spoke with James and Lisa recently and we talked about the magazine and their goals for its future. They are no strangers to magazines or the magazine business. They have been in the newsstand business for most of their lives and feel that niche print is key to today’s good health when it comes to the newsstand. Along with Editor-in-Chief, Suzy Slesin, design publishing veteran (NYT, H&G and O at Home), the Cohens hope to break new ground with a fresh approach and present information in accessible, innovative and creative ways.

Lisa Cohen The passion that Lisa Cohen feels for art, design and the magazine is fairly palpable as she talks about the strengths and uniqueness that is Galerie. And James is a staunch supporter and believes that Galerie will offer its readers a different look into the worlds of both art and design.

So, I hope that you enjoy this most “artful” conversation as Mr. Magazine™ talks with two people who have a great love and passion for art, design, newsstand and magazines, James and Lisa Cohen, Founders, Galerie Magazine.

But first, the soundbites:

On whether anyone has asked them if they’ve lost their minds because they’re starting a print magazine in this digital age (Lisa Cohen): (Laughs) No, it’s actually been just the opposite. It’s really refreshing in this industry; everyone seems to be having a great response. It shows a different niche and we feel it’s more of an enthusiast magazine and the type of publication that people will subscribe to. And it will grow into a website; we are working on that.

On whether they believe there’s still hope for the newsstands (James Cohen): As I said, print is morphing. I’m a proponent of the newsstand business and it’s changed radically, but there is still going to be a niche there and as long as people want to feel something that’s tactile; that’s graphically interesting, print is going to be around.

On the magazine being something more than ink on paper, but an actual experience for the reader (Lisa Cohen): There is such a huge interest all over the globe in the art world. And people really want to be a part of that and know more about it. As I have said before, there are magazines that are just about art; there are interior design home magazines that are just about that, and there are fashion magazines that are just about fashion and travel that covers travel, but this magazine brings it all together and shows how art influences all those different genres of design. So, I feel it’s a very full experience.

On the concept and what makes Galerie unique (James Cohen): What has to happen in a rapidly changing world is that magazines need to stay relevant in order to stay popular. And obviously, we’ve seen what happened with categories that either weren’t timely or weren’t relevant; the newsweeklies for instance. They were usurped, but this magazine doesn’t have an issue with a timeliness subject, but it does have a relevance to creating a demand for something.

On the low cover price of $7.95 (James Cohen): Well that was a consensus decision that we all thought was appropriate for the simple reason that to be successful on the newsstand on a very small niche level or on a mass level, what I learned 35 years ago was that price should not be an impediment to buying it. And we wanted to have, even within this niche, as wide an audience as possible, so of there was an interest and they picked up a copy, the last thing that we wanted was for the price to be an issue.

On what they thought about the finished product of the magazine (James Cohen): I saw the pages before they were bound and they looked very nice, but you know, it was nothing like when I actually saw the magazine. I was so thrilled to have the paper quality and the print quality come out the way it did, because we’re competing for people’s attention with a whole bunch of other titles sitting on a newsstand or on a rack in a book chain and the magazine really jumps out and that’s what you need.

On Lisa’s involvement with organizations and schools, such as the Hetrick-Martin Institute, and how she incorporates that passion into the magazine (Lisa Cohen): I became involved through some friends I have in the interior design world. And basically I was just born into it through putting together a big fundraiser for them in the Hamptons last summer. Before that they had asked me to come up and see the school, so I went up to visit and I was just so impressed by what this school was doing for these young, creative minds; kids that would have been otherwise on the streets and without opportunities in life and some of them maybe committing suicide and just facing total destruction. I thought by tying it into the magazine it would be an even more passionate project for me and even more gratifying.

From the pages of the magazine On how the Cohens’ wraparound staircase wound up on the cover of the first issue of the magazine (Lisa Cohen): Well, it wasn’t my idea, let’s put it that way. I didn’t want to have anything of my property in the first issue. But when Suzanne saw what I did there, it was her first introduction in learning about who I am, how I think and what I’m about. And she felt that the message was so strong about me that she felt the opposite and that it should be in the magazine’s first issue to introduce me and to show part of my world. It was just very lucky that I met Suzanne because she’s been a fantastic editor to work with.

On the major challenge they will have to face (James Cohen): Getting out the message about this and expanding its reach throughout the industry and throughout the enthusiast world and the digital world, is going to be our challenge, to expand its reach and to make it even more attractive for advertisers to keep coming in.

On the role of magazines in today’s digital age (James Cohen): They should play the role of something that is, even though it might be readily available in alternative formats, visually stimulating, so that it is more pleasing. It has to have a particular niche, whether it’s a food magazine or an art magazine or a design magazine, and it has to talk to people in a way that you just can’t really get digitally.

On people’s return to print (James Cohen): You know the most significant drop in newsstand is coming from the mass celebrity books where they have the most readily available alternatives. And as that settles in those drops will mitigate. The last four months or so of the business, sales have dropped less and we’re not sure if this the start of a trend or not, but at a certain point we feel that the migration is going to cease because everyone, and you’re not talking about the print magazine versus the digital version of it, you’re talking about competing for people’s time.

On the newsstands’ future (Janes Cohen): The future of our newsstands is as I said; at some point in the future sales will stabilize at a certain level. And I think it was a combination of a lot of things that happened, whether it was the digital influx or the recession; the consolidation of wholesalers was another factor. All of these things contributed to the drop in sales. But the few publishers who have had the courage to print new magazines, and of course Hearst is the shining example, because they’ve come up with three winners in the last four or five years, that shows if you have the courage of your convictions and if you have a niche and you can find the right audience and publish something that people want to read, then there should be a future here.

On anything else they’d like to add (Lisa Cohen): I’m hoping that it will have a major digital component with e-commerce and be able to offer opportunities to emerging artists to sell their work, where they ordinarily wouldn’t have the opportunity to. And I’m very excited about that.

On what someone would find them doing if they showed up unannounced one evening at their home (Lisa Cohen): Definitely you would see a lot of magazines. (Laughs) In every room there are stacks. I love reading magazines. I still find it a very enjoyable experience.

On what someone would find them doing if they showed up unannounced one evening at their home (James Cohen): You would either find me on the phone with my business, or reading magazines, or yes, even watching The Donald. (Laughs)

On what keeps them up at night (James Cohen): We have four children, three of whom are young adults. And obviously, we think a lot about how they’re going to make their way in the world and be happy. So, those are our concerns.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with James and Lisa Cohen, Founders, Galerie Magazine.

Samir Husni: According to the prophets of doom and gloom; the newsstands are going down the drain and print is going down the drain with them. And having worked for most of your life with the newsstands since you’re in wholesaling, I’m sure you’ve heard all of this. And Lisa, I have to say that you’ve created one of the most beautiful magazines that I’ve seen in a long time, but with all of the negativity flowing from the naysayers’ mouths; has anyone asked you both yet if you’ve lost it, starting a print magazine in this digital age?

Lisa Cohen: (Laughs) No, it’s actually been just the opposite. It’s really refreshing in this industry; everyone seems to be having a great response. It shows a different niche and we feel it’s more of an enthusiast magazine and the type of publication that people will subscribe to. And it will grow into a website; we are working on that.

James Cohen: If I could take a stab at your question from the business side; it’s not that print is dying; print is changing. I think it’s radically changing and I believe the mass channels that have dominated the print category for as long as we can remember have declined the most. The niche categories, to the extent that they still represent something unique that people want, have fared better.

Even the bigger launches of the last few years, as few and far between as they have been, take Hearst’s products, for example; they’re niche products, whether it’s the Food Network or Dr. Oz The Good Life; those are specific niche categories that people like. This magazine is even more of a specialized category because Lisa is attempting to put together two related fields in a way that they’ve never been put together before in design. And as we just said, the mass design magazines are what they are; this is not one of those, this is more of the personalities behind the stories: the art directors, the artists and the designers. We’re trying to reach a very special audience. Not a huge audience, but a very special one that really loves this category and I don’t think anyone has done that before.

Samir Husni: James, as an ink on paper, wholesale distributor, do you feel that by launching this new title you’re putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak, that there’s still hope for the newsstands?

James Cohen: Sure. As I said, print is morphing. I’m a proponent of the newsstand business and it’s changed radically, but there is still going to be a niche there and as long as people want to feel something that’s tactile; that’s graphically interesting, print is going to be around.

Lisa Cohen: This kind of magazine that is so visual; you really can’t capture that on a mobile device.

Samir Husni: And Lisa you mentioned in your introductory letter that you are inviting people to experience this magazine and engage in that artistic living adventure. So, you’re not just viewing it as ink on paper, but rather that you’re creating something to actually be experienced. Can you expand a little on that?

Lisa Cohen: It’s like an evolution. I think it will grow and have branches and many leaves that will come out of this. I’m seeing now that it’s just starting, a lot of different avenues are opening up; I’m doing these art and design shows where I’m bringing the experience with me.

James Cohen: The category itself is a very growing category.

Lisa Cohen: That is true. There is such a huge interest all over the globe in the art world. And people really want to be a part of that and know more about it. As I have said before, there are magazines that are just about art; there are interior design home magazines that are just about that, and there are fashion magazines that are just about fashion and travel that covers travel, but this magazine brings it all together and shows how art influences all those different genres of design. So, I feel it’s a very full experience.

And it’s also an experience in the way that we break it down and bring out the artist and the entities that work on all the different design projects. And then there’s a discussion on each of them that we write about, and that talks about them, their careers and the creative process behind each project.

So, my goal is to bring that creative process out and break it down so that people can enjoy that and be motivated from one artistic eye to another.

Samir Husni: I noticed that you’re very first adjective in describing the magazine is curated. And you distinguish it by having it in the color red on the cover. Do you feel that you’re more of a curator of art with this new magazine, Galerie, rather than a creator or an editor?

Lisa Cohen: Yes, I do. That was my concept.

Samir Husni: Explain a little about that concept, if you would. The two of you literally grew up surrounded by magazines. People can come to my office and see me surrounded by magazines, but you grew your entire lives around them. Differentiate this concept for me, because a lot of people are going to look at it and say, if a major wholesaler is starting a magazine like Galerie, they must know something that we don’t. What’s that something that you know that some people on the outside does not know?

Lisa Cohen: I think it’s what Jim was talking about when he said the niche titles were doing well. They’re holding more ground. Right, Jim?

James Cohen: Yes, what has to happen in a rapidly changing world is that magazines need to stay relevant in order to stay popular. And obviously, we’ve seen what happened with categories that either weren’t timely or weren’t relevant; the newsweeklies for instance. They were usurped, but this magazine doesn’t have an issue with a timeliness subject, but it does have a relevance to creating a demand for something.

Lisa Cohen: And it’s growing art culture, really.

James Cohen: Yes, and that hasn’t been addressed. Mostly, traditional art magazines have been around a long time and they have a very staid approach to things and Galerie is going to be different.

Lisa Cohen: This is more about the experience and it’s more multifaceted.

James Cohen: And we know that the world has changed; we’re not putting a half a million copies out; it’s going to have its niche. It’s not even a mass supermarket book like most large newsstand titles are; there will be a niche. We’re going to airports; the top book chains in the country; and we’re going to the top independents that have the best demographics.

Lisa Cohen: And quite possibly the private airports.

James Cohen: Yes and we’re also obviously going to be sending copies to target our audience better, whether it’s private airports or to collectors; people in the trade. So, it will be a targeted and intelligent approach; not a crazy mass one.

Samir Husni: Jim, as a wholesaler, why this reasoning? I mean, you know more about this than probably anybody else in the industry. I expected to see a cover price of $15 or $20, so I was really stunned when I saw $7.95.

James Cohen: Right. Well that was a consensus decision that we all thought was appropriate for the simple reason that to be successful on the newsstand on a very small niche level or on a mass level, what I learned 35 years ago was that price should not be an impediment to buying it. And we wanted to have, even within this niche, as wide an audience as possible, so of there was an interest and they picked up a copy, the last thing that we wanted was for the price to be an issue. We wanted to reach out with as broad a net as we could. This magazine is not living or dying on newsstand revenues; it has its traditional base and that’s between ads, subscriptions and hopefully digital moving forward. It’ll have several different revenue sources that will make it work.

Samir Husni: Let me ask you a very biased question; when the first issue was completed and you took a look at it, what did you think? Did you look at Lisa and say, wow! Or did you ask, Lisa, what have we done? (Laughs)

James Cohen: I saw the pages before they were bound and they looked very nice, but you know, it was nothing like when I actually saw the magazine. I was so thrilled to have the paper quality and the print quality come out the way it did, because we’re competing for people’s attention with a whole bunch of other titles sitting on a newsstand or on a rack in a book chain and the magazine really jumps out and that’s what you need.

Samir Husni: And Lisa, the magazine is also a movement. You’re putting not only your passion for art into it, but also you’re helping with organizations and schools, such as your role with the Hetrick-Martin Institute and the Harvey Milk School. Explain this mixed interest of yours and how you’re channeling that into the magazine.

Lisa Cohen: I became involved through some friends I have in the interior design world. And basically I was just born into it through putting together a big fundraiser for them in the Hamptons last summer. Before that they had asked me to come up and see the school, so I went up to visit and I was just so impressed by what this school was doing for these young, creative minds; kids that would have been otherwise on the streets and without opportunities in life and some of them maybe committing suicide and just facing total destruction.

So, by doing for these kids; you have no idea, you create a life. And these are very sensitive, wonderful and creative minds and it’s a big part of the art world. And I feel that one leads to the other and protecting and giving these young people a chance is our future creative talent for tomorrow. And our world is a better place for it. It goes along with all of my basic instincts. And I thought by tying it into the magazine it would be an even more passionate project for me and even more gratifying. To be able to do something great and interesting for the readers and also to give back to the school and see that prosper.

James Cohen: And it was a great affiliation for all involved.

Lisa Cohen: It’s a great affiliation with the wonderful people who are involved in the organization. I have to say that I’m the first straight mother of four to become involved, or so they tell me. (Laughs) But I couldn’t be more passionate about helping these kids. In April, we’re doing an art house in conjunction with the launch of the magazine and we have five artists with installations in each room. And I designed two of their decorative arts around each artist.

One of the rooms we gave to the Harvey Milk High School and the kids all did what home means to them and how they relate to that. And if you walk in that room and you see these kids and their creativity, you’re just amazed at the power and energy of their work. And the wonderful feeling you get from knowing that in some small way, you’re giving back to them.

Samir Husni: Talking about art and creativity, I read in Suzanne Slesin’s letter, who you’ve tapped for editor in chief of the magazine, that she had the same feeling when she entered your home and saw the wraparound staircase that ended up on the cover of the magazine. So, tell me about the idea of the wraparound and how the art of your staircase ended up on the cover of the magazine?

Lisa Cohen: Well, it wasn’t my idea, let’s put it that way. I didn’t want to have anything of my property in the first issue. But when Suzanne saw what I did there, it was her first introduction in learning about who I am, how I think and what I’m about. And she felt that the message was so strong about me that she felt the opposite and that it should be in the magazine’s first issue to introduce me and to show part of my world.

It was just very lucky that I met Suzanne because she’s been a fantastic editor to work with. We think very much alike and I’m very happy that she, with so many years of experience in this industry, 17 years at The New York Times and all of the other magazines that she worked for, that she took me on. It was a great honor to me. It’s been a wonderful association. It’s like we’re both doing what we love. It’s a real lovefest.

Samir Husni: What has been your major stumbling block since you started this venture? Usually when people launch a new magazine or come and talk to me about launching one, they have two problems: advertising and circulation. In your case the circulation problem is solved, nobody has to go and beg the wholesaler to distribute the magazine; it’s a done deal. Right?

The mission statement.

The mission statement.

James Cohen: Right. And the advertising is coming along very well. And we are expecting after this first issue, which has already been very well received by all the current and potential advertisers, to ramp that up over the next couple of issues this year. Getting out the message about this and expanding its reach throughout the industry and throughout the enthusiast world and the digital world, is going to be our challenge, to expand its reach and to make it even more attractive for advertisers to keep coming in.

Samir Husni: From a distributor’s point of view, what do you think the role of magazines is in today’s digital age? What role should they play?

James Cohen: They should play the role of something that is, even though it might be readily available in alternative formats, visually stimulating, so that it is more pleasing. It has to have a particular niche, whether it’s a food magazine or an art magazine or a design magazine, and it has to talk to people in a way that you just can’t really get digitally. It has to fulfill a need.

Lisa Cohen: And also working from print and just starting to work on digital, print is such a great springboard because usually now most projects don’t have a print component like we do. For the people who are working on it, they feel it’s a great springboard.

James Cohen: And we have the luxury of being able to use the print issue as a rollout piece, not the digital, and establish ourselves through it, because let’s face it, the medium we’re talking about is a totally visual medium. And that’s what print does best.

Samir Husni: What are your future plans? I know you’re publishing three times this year and then moving to four times and using print as your core product.

Lisa Cohen: Maybe we’re just traditional and old-fashioned, but using print seems like the right decision.

Samir Husni: The Columbia Journalism Review published an article last December that said “print is the new “new” media.”

Lisa Cohen: (Laughs) Right, exactly. You’re starting to hear that people are saying that magazines maybe became diluted waiting to see what was going to happen with television now. Every form of media has been challenged over the years. But it seems like even books are coming back stronger; at least, that’s what I’ve heard from major publishers.

James Cohen: Yes, and you know the most significant drop in newsstand is coming from the mass celebrity books where they have the most readily available alternatives. And as that settles in those drops will mitigate.

The last four months or so of the business, sales have dropped less and we’re not sure if this the start of a trend or not, but at a certain point we feel that the migration is going to cease because everyone, and you’re not talking about the print magazine versus the digital version of it, you’re talking about competing for people’s time. And at some point in the future, it’s going to get fully integrated and things will stabilize, it’s just a question of when.

Lisa Cohen: Yes, I agree. And when you think about what’s happening with television, people are just watching it when they want to watch it. It’s all changing, everything is changing.

Samir Husni: Jim, talking about change, in your opinion; what’s the future of our newsstands?

James Cohen: The future of our newsstands is as I said; at some point in the future sales will stabilize at a certain level. And I think it was a combination of a lot of things that happened, whether it was the digital influx or the recession; the consolidation of wholesalers was another factor. All of these things contributed to the drop in sales.

But the few publishers who have had the courage to print new magazines, and of course Hearst is the shining example, because they’ve come up with three winners in the last four or five years, that shows if you have the courage of your convictions and if you have a niche and you can find the right audience and publish something that people want to read, then there should be a future here.

Let’s face it, the mass books of half a century ago, the Saturday Evening Post, LIFE; they all kind of gave way in a certain manner to television. And the same thing has happened with the newsweeklies and the celebrity weeklies with digital. So, they’ll find their niche, it won’t be what it used to be, but as long as publishers can put products together that people want to read, it’ll be around. And you just can’t understate that; you just have to be a little more clever and creative these days. And I think that there’s always going to be a market for it. Ten years from now it may look entirely different, but it will always be here and hopefully stabilize over the next few years.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else either of you would like to add?

Lisa Cohen: I’m hoping that it will have a major digital component with e-commerce and be able to offer opportunities to emerging artists to sell their work, where they ordinarily wouldn’t have the opportunity to. And I’m very excited about that.

Samir Husni: So, you’re really on a mission? I can hear it in the tone of your voice; you’re a woman on a mission.

James Cohen: This is Lisa’s labor of love. She is very passionate about both art and design; she is an incredibly creative person, as you can see from her work. And this is the manifestation of it and it’s great.

Lisa Cohen: After bringing up a big family, this is everything I ever wanted and it’s all coming together and it’s like a dream for me. And I think when you do something that you love, it usually shows and the product will be successful.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unannounced at your home one evening, what would I find you both doing? Reading a magazine, a book, watching television, or something else?

Lisa Cohen: Definitely you would see a lot of magazines. (Laughs) In every room there are stacks. I love reading magazines. I still find it a very enjoyable experience.

James Cohen: I even read weeklies.

Lisa Cohen: And most of my friends say I’m your best customer; so they’re all still enjoying it too. It’s not the end of magazines; it will always have its niche. With magazines it’s about the experience and even the younger people want that. It’s just a different kind of experience.

James Cohen: You would either find me on the phone with my business, or reading magazines, or yes, even watching The Donald. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you both up at night?

James Cohen: In a good way or a bad way? (Laughs) We’ve been very fortunate, so a lot of things that most people worry about, we’re lucky enough to not have to. We worry about our children and what kind of future they’re going to have. And what kind of world they’re going to be in.

Lisa Cohen: It’s our family. I think that’s what occupies most of our worries.

James Cohen: We have four children, three of whom are young adults. And obviously, we think a lot about how they’re going to make their way in the world and be happy. So, those are our concerns.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Audience First And The Four Cs*

March 21, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 8.05.28 AM Since the dawn of the digital age, certain people have been predicting the demise of print magazines.

As many of you may or may not know, I am a follower of magazines. Well, actually, that’s not exactly accurate. I would define myself as much more than a mere follower; I would lean more towards the word ‘disciple’. You know who they are; those cynics and prophets of gloom and doom who apparently have nothing better to do than spout rhetoric about subjects they actually know nothing about. It would be absolutely comical, if it wasn’t such a thorn in the side of print producers globally.

For much longer than the 30 years that I have been documented as an ink on paper zealot, I have lived, breathed and loved magazines. For that reason, since the beginning of the nonsensical cries of ‘print is dead’ or ‘print is in decline’, I’ve censured that discussion with more than just my own passion for the medium. I have produced new launch numbers every month each year on my Mr. Magazine’s Launch Monitor that contradicts such negativity.

Some have listened and some haven’t. Regardless of that, the numbers exist and the proof is in the addition.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 8.17.16 AM Take 2015, for example**. There were 814 new magazine launches, with 237 of them promising frequency. Healthy numbers for a declining medium, I’d say. And many of these new titles are from some of the biggest names in the publishing world. And when major industry leaders launch new print magazines, that’s something that surely must be recognised because it speaks volumes about the power of the medium.

These people aren’t in the business of wasting dollars on something that has no value, especially when some of those new babies are the best of the best. From companies like Meredith, Smithsonian and National Geographic to Rodale and Bauer, these mega giants of the industry have managed to create magic with titles that are content-engaging and design-brilliant.

So, what’s the secret to print success for magazines in the 21st century? Well, it’s really no big secret.

It’s based on Audience First and the Four Cs that are needed to secure a print future in a digital age, and how those Four Cs relate to the culture and the community of the different parts of the world.

The Audience First movement

In order for us to achieve the highest power of print that relates to the customers and culture of the community, we must focus on the community itself, making the message loud and clear: Audience First, rather than digital first or print first or anything else first.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 8.16.58 AM The Four Cs that are vital to the future of magazines in this digital age are:

Content
Creation
Curation
Credibility

Now, how can we put those Four Cs into the service of the customer and culture? Putting our customers and our culture first is an essential vehicle for future survival and for not only selling content, but to be in the business of serving content on a silver platter to audiences in each region of the world.

What’s most essential to remember about the Four C approach is the importance of creating more with less and of achieving a link with your audience – your customers – based on their preferences, choices and giving them the sense that they are the ones really in control. It really is all about ‘Audience First’.

In the world we live in today, change is the only constant. That’s an irrefutable fact.

And while change in the media in general and in the magazine industry in particular has been occurring at record speed, the Audience First movement is based on the premise that the focus of media managers today should be on the audience and not on the platforms themselves.

So as we experience all of these technological and digitally-inherent changes, we must never lose sight of what’s important: the audience, not the platform they consume their content on. The ‘Four Cs’ strategy puts that premise into action by linking the first Four Cs with the Foundational Four Cs and using ‘C-Power’ to keep our customers engaged.

The Foundational Four Cs are:

Customer – the audience is our customer
Choice – the customer wants choices
Control – the customer is in control
Change – the only constant in our business

It may sound like a whole lot of Cs, but we’re surrounded by seas in just about any country we may live in, so we have to sink or swim and it’s time we all learned to do more than dog paddle!

Customer

Call a customer a customer. It is what it is. Customers are our main goal, main source of revenue and the only reason that we in the magazine business have a job.

So, the first thing publishers and makers of content have to do is to know their audiences. It’s as simple as that. You can’t sell milk to someone who already owns ten cows, unless those cows are unable to lactate.

You have to give your audience something they need and want before they’re going to become addicted to your product.

Choice

Creating relevant and important content is a must. In this day and age the customer already has so much choice. They can find content anywhere, anytime on the internet. From their PC and laptop to their mobile device, choice is a plentiful commodity.

Therefore, you have to make your product even more engaging and relevant to the customer if you even hope to have a snowball’s chance in summertime Mississippi of creating a dent in the competition’s armour. It’s up to you.

Control

Truly, the power of audiences has never been greater. It’s certainly an on-demand world when it comes to content consumption and magazines have learned the hard way that getting information to the ones ultimately in control – the audience – in the way that they want it, is key to maintaining relevance.

There are mediums for each type of content the audience wants and needs to consume. And magazines may not be for breaking news, but they do have a collectability factor that digital does not have.

And audiences have long-recognised that fact. It’s time magazine makers did as well. Ceding control is never easy, but it’s sometimes mandatory for survival.

Change

Instead of fearing change, we need to embrace it. We must recognise the fact that technology isn’t going away. Magazines and magazine media must face that and grow along with the rest of the world.

Through creativity and innovation, magazines can and will survive and in fact, thrive, in this digital world. We just have to be willing to realise that as fast as technology evolves, magazines have to evolve too.

You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. However, there’s no sense in overstaying your welcome in the past.

Acknowledge it, revel in it or wallow in it for a moment, whichever is suitable for your particular situation, and then move along.

I dare say that the future of magazines is what we make it.

After all, no one can define magazines like the people who create them. So, we have to be relevant and necessary, content-engaging and offer a viable, collectable choice for our customers. And above all else, we have to put the Audience First at all times.

There’s nothing more important than the hands that choose your product from the newsstand or retrieve it from their mailboxes.

Many things come next when it comes to the future of magazines, but only one thing will ever come first: the audience.

*This article appeared as a chapter in the magazine section of in The Media Yearbook, an annual book from Wag the Dog Publishers in South Africa.
** The 2015 numbers that appeared in that chapter were estimates. The numbers in this post are the final numbers of 2015.

h1

min: How Does Mr. Magazine™ Narrow Down 10,000 Magazines To 30? My Interview With The Staff Of Media Industry Newsletter*

March 17, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 3.59.20 PM A lot has changed in media over the past 30 years. That is especially true for magazines, as digital media continues to disrupt the century-old business model. Nevertheless, new magazines are opening all the time—and at a much faster rate than closures.

Over the past 30 years, Dr. Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni, professor at the University of Mississippi, has been tracking all of these launches. In that time, Husni has looked at thousands of new magazines and then determined which amongst them are best in class.

To mark his 30 year endeavor, Husni is teaming up with min to honor the 30 Hottest Launches of the Past 30 years. Each of which will be honored at “The 30 Event” on April 14 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. Additionally, Husni will reveal which brand was the hottest of the hot, as well as honor three individuals (hottest editor, hottest publisher and hottest art/creative director) who have been influential in moving the needle forward for magazine media.

Here, min catches up with Husni to discuss what goes into determining his annual “hot” list and how he was able to narrow it down to just 30 magazines over the past 30 years.

min: Tell us about the process you go through every year to select your hottest 30 launches, and likewise how you were able to narrow it down over a 30-year period.

Mr. Magazine's™ Photo by Allie Haake.

Mr. Magazine’s™ Photo by Allie Haake.

Samir Husni: One of the easiest and most enjoyable parts of my job is finding all of the new magazines that arrive on the newsstands. I am a student of the newsstands and have been since I was a very young boy. It was my beloved hobby then and has continued with me. So much so, that my hobby turned into my education; my education became my profession; and today people pay me for my hobby.

It started from the sheer pleasure I received from searching, finding and locating those first editions. And by the way, new titles were always there, before the economic crisis, after the economic crisis, before and after digital, before and after the Internet. And today, new magazines continue to arrive to the marketplace at almost the same level they were in 1978. The new magazine titles are averaging between 200-300 magazines published on a regular frequency; plus another 400-500 published as bookazines, specials, or annuals.

The process I use for selecting the hottest launches is very simple actually; yet at the same time, very tough because it’s always hard to choose among your children, so there has to be some carved-in-stone criteria for the process.

The very first criterion is, no matter how good the magazine is, if it’s not continuously published, it’s not a “hot” title. Once you’re dead, you’re cold. And since we’re dealing with the 30 “Hottest Launches” you definitely need to be among the living to be considered.

The second important criterion is that the magazine must be launched and published in the United States. There are some who might say, for example, you didn’t include Vice on your list. Vice was started in Canada. This list is strictly for magazines that were born and launched in the United States, and have continuously been in business since the end of 2011, because that 4-year marker is a very important milestone in the success or failure of a new magazine. Based on my research and my studies, most magazines that make it to the 4-year mark, unless some unforeseen disaster takes place, they are going to continue publishing.

min: What’s the biggest challenge in making your final selections?

Husni: Could you imagine a father having to select publicly which one of his children he preferred? This is something that is deeply personal to me. That’s why most of the titles of the books that I have written and published are: Samir Husni’s Guide to New Magazines; Samir Husni’s Guide to the Hottest Launch List, because there is a lot of subjectivity. I am an outsider looking in, not an insider that has access to all of the data and all of the numbers.

So from my helicopter view, when I look at the industry and at what’s happening; I look at how much a new title is gaining in traction, media attention and expansion, such as going overseas, publishing spin-offs, being all over the Web and mobile. All of these criteria have to be looked at. It’s very difficult. I do not base my selections on ad pages or circulation or distribution of a magazine. It is more of an observer’s wholesome approach.

Just to give you an example; in the past 30 years we had 23,318 new magazines, from which there were 9,828 titles published on a regular frequency. I had to look at all of those 9,828 magazines, which by the way, I do have each and every one of them, to reach my 30 Hottest. And it’s not easy. Having all those titles makes access easy, but not the decision process.

min: When it comes to magazines (ink and paper product not brands), what changes have you seen since you started tracking these hottest launches 30 years ago?

Husni: Of course, my definition of a magazine is “if it’s not ink on paper, it’s not a magazine.” So, that did not change. I still track magazines the same way I have always tracked them.

The major change is the degree of specialization. We are seeing more and more niche titles coming to the marketplace and we’re seeing more and more expensive cover prices. When I first began tracking magazines in 1978, the average cover price was around $2. Today the average cover price is around $10. That’s a big difference.

The number of new magazines that are coming to the marketplace with the intention of validating the customers who count, rather than counting customers is another very welcomed change. And this is new because of two reasons: The new printing processes make it easier for magazines to launch with a very low circulation. It can have a circulation as low as 1,000, but then you look at the cover price and it’s $35 or $50 per issue.

Secondly, because of digital and technology, we can dissect and personalize those magazines. Your copy can be different than my copy. We are seeing more intimacy with the customer, making it more of an experience, therefore we aren’t counting customers; we’re getting customers who count.

min: What hasn’t changed?

Husni: The role that magazines play in today’s society is, was and will continue to be the same. If you spend any time at all watching television or surfing the Web, or engaging with an app, you’ll understand readily why we still need ink on paper and that content. It’s amazing how much repetition and junk is out there.

Magazines have always been and will continue to be that relaxing “me” time that we all need, that sitting down with a nice glass of wine or tea and enjoying a special shared experience between you and the magazine. That will absolutely never change.

min: Obviously you can’t reveal who the hottest launch is overall, but can you tell us a little bit about that selection and how you finally arrived on the winner? Likewise, how many magazines made the short list, and what put the big winner over the top?

Husni: Every one of the 30 magazines that made the final cut deserves it. Out of almost 10,000 titles, these 30 were chosen. However, there can only be one winner and that’s where the struggle comes in. How do you scale down such an illustrious list of titles to one? And I’ll admit, it was an agonizingly, lengthy process. Each one of those titles could easily be THE hottest launch of the past 30 years.

But I had to start somewhere to narrow it down; so I started with the magazines that excelled and were wonderful, but didn’t have the extras that we were looking for. Such as, did the magazine really grow so much bigger over the past 30 years from its infancy, that today it is a mega force to be reckoned with in its category? How many international editions do they have? How have they expanded? How much has the brand expanded?

We went from 30, down to 20, down to 10 and finally on the shortlist, we were down to two magazines. So after that, I just flipped a coin… Just kidding.

The final decision was made thoughtfully and carefully and it was very close between the two titles.

And you’ll find out at the min 30 Event on April 14, 2016…

Looking forward to seeing you there!

For more information on the event, and to get one of the few remaining tickets, click here.
________________________________________________________________________________________
* From minonline March 16, 2016

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Texture App: Will It Succeed In Changing The Way People Read Magazines? The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Maggie Murphy, Editorial Content Director, Texture.

March 15, 2016

“The challenge of magazines these days is that we’re delivering them the same way that we did 50 years ago. There’s a guy with a truck and a newsstand (Laughs); it’s not an efficient way. This is a good way. I believe there will always be things that you want on paper, but I don’t think that means that we can’t have this experience digitally.” Maggie Murphy

IMG_2145 What Spotify is to music, Texture is to magazines, or so the powers-that-be at Texture by Next Issue say, especially the App’s editorial content director, Maggie Murphy. Maggie comes from a long background in print, having been editorial director and content strategist at Parade and content consultant at Time Inc. Her love for magazines knows no boundaries. And with the Texture App, which is a joint venture formed by six leading publishers – Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp., Rogers Communications and Time Inc., she gets to show her love and adoration to 200 different magazines at a time rather than just one.

Next Issue Media is the start-up company behind the Texture App. At the core of Next Issue’s offerings are the Texture Apps for iPad® and iPhone®, Android™ and Windows® 8 PCs and tablets, and offers a digital reading experience that gives the reader an all-access pass to the world’s best magazines.

Maggie is a strong believer in the app and believes that this is an alternative that can work in conjunction with other digital media and with print as well, to give the reader a better and more diverse experience.

I spoke with Maggie recently and we talked about Texture and the ability the app gives its readers to buy single-copy stories or immerse themselves fully into their favorite magazines; it’s all about giving them choice. Through the sampling, Maggie believes that many titles that consumers wouldn’t normally buy, they might on the other hand purchase one article or story that catches their eye and a new customer is born. It is a very interesting concept that may be the answer to developing a new digital revenue stream that actually works. It certainly shows promise and hope.

So, I hope you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Maggie Murphy, Editorial Content Director, Texture, as she shares her hopes and dreams for the app that presents the magazines she loves in a most interesting and diverse way.

But first, the sound-bites:

unnamed-1 On the differences in experience between accessing something on an article by article basis versus having an actual magazine in hand: It was getting harder and harder to find magazines, especially in New York, and I never seemed to have one in my hand when I wanted to read one. And carrying around my device and just loading the app, I was suddenly able to read things that I hadn’t in months. There was everything I loved about Real Simple at my fingertips; there was The New Yorker; Vogue; just everything. And I think it made me actually an even more diverse reader, for instance, the app’s connection and our relationship with Rogers Communications, which is one of our owners; I was going to read Maclean’s and Maclean’s take on the U.S. election is fascinating.

On whether she feels there’s a difference in experiences when it comes to actually holding a magazine to read, versus not having that weight in your hand: I feel a digital experience delivers to me quality content, and the second thing about it is that I can share that content. I’m running around over time; I’m trying to simplify my life, and I come across a story in Marie Claire that I really think my niece would love, I can send that to her in one step. I think you’re going to have people who will always love the feel of paper; they appreciate it, but the reality is that when it comes to the visual experience, the iPad does a wonderful job of giving me a beautiful image of National Geographic. It looks as vibrant on the screen as when I would produce a magazine.

On whether she agrees with the statement some publishers have made that the tablet and the homepage are dead: (Laughs) No, I don’t. I think just like the lyrics in one Bruce Springsteen song says: everything that dies one day grows back. I believe there was incredible bitterness and disappointment in the arrival of the tablet and how it was supposed to save magazines, and unfortunately that wasn’t the case. But I think there was too much too soon, before the reader was ready. And I don’t believe the technology was as nimble as our ambitions.

IMG_2143 (1) On the total number of magazines available on the app: We’re closing in on 200 magazines and recently we added the Reader’s Digest team, along with The Atavist, so we’re covering from every spectrum. And we have all of the partners’ brands, so that’s all of the magazines from Time Inc., from Sports Illustrated to People to EW and of course Time magazine. We have Condé Nast and all of their brands, such as Bon Appétit, Vogue and The New Yorker. We have all of Hearst’s wonderful titles, like Marie Claire, Esquire, Town & Country and we have titles outside our partners.

On how she feels her job has changed since her days as editor of Parade, where she created content, to her role today as a curator of content: Today Texture isn’t creating content, but I don’t think that’s off the table. I believe that could be a long-term goal and I especially think as we look at how wonderful things like The Atavist’s Mastermind is doing, that’s a model that we’re intrigued by. Fundamentally, when I said that I wanted to be a journalist, to me, that meant that I wanted to work in magazines and I am working in magazines. And I think I’m working in magazines at a time and with a platform that shows a different way to go forward.

On why someone would pay money to access content through Texture when they can get it for free on most magazine websites: What we believe is for someone who is looking for that magazine experience, and people love magazines; what we’re saying is this is a way to get all of them at your fingertips, just like there is in a Netflix model or a satellite radio model and there’s a fee for that so that we can make sure that we can continue to pay for it and continue a revenue model.

On what she’d like to say she had accomplished a year from now with Texture: The biggest problem we face right now is just that people don’t know that we exist. We’re doing our very best to get the message out there. We’re working with our owners, who have been incredibly supportive by really investing in the brand, and really updating it. We’re working on a mobile adaptive so that we’re really able to deliver magazine content in a mobile-friendly manner for the phablet that is to come. And I think it’s just really giving magazine lovers choice, of saying here’s another way.

On what motivates her to get out of bed in the morning: I still get to discover great stories; that’s what I like about it. I was talking to friends one day and they asked me why I got into this business. I simply told them: I love magazines. I thought it would be cool to work on magazines. And today I’m not working on simply one; I’m working on 200 of them. I want to see these magazines succeed. From the way that they are put into the app; the way pulling out a story delivers a message; to the push notifications. We’re championing great reading.

On selling content story-by-story instead of offering the entire experience: One of the main ways people read many brands is cover to cover. They’ll go into the app, they love the magazines that are their favorites, and they read cover to cover and we see that in our data. However, by offering them singles, we’re potentially offering them the chance to sample something that they might not. And in fact, one of the more interesting aspects after the horrible Paris attacks; we collected stories together about how Islamic terrorism might have come to Paris. And there’s a piece from The New Yorker and a piece from Time about why did this happen; what’s going on. And there was a piece from Vogue about the wives and female jihadists. And a number of people said to me: I would have expected that piece from The New Yorker; I would have expected that piece from Time, but I didn’t know that was in Vogue, and it gave me a new appreciation of Vogue.

On what keeps her up at night: People believing that the only way to get great magazine content is a website; that’s not the case anymore. We’re here; we have a great product and it’s improving every single day and I just want more people to know about it.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Maggie Murphy, Editorial Content Director, Texture.

Samir Husni: Recently there was some news about Texture, that now you can view it on a horizontal screen as opposed to only vertical. And you’re also signing digital-only magazines, so as one who was so involved in the print component of a magazine; how do you access the feeling of reading something article by article versus having an actual magazine in your hand?

unnamed Maggie Murphy: That’s a great question. I have really loved reading as many magazines as I get to do, thanks to the Texture app. That was my reintroduction to it because I had worked at Time Inc. when the original idea was invented by John Squires and he had worked with a consortium of publishers to get them to sign on. But I hadn’t really looked at the app until last spring and when I opened it up I thought to myself, oh my gosh, where has this been?

It was getting harder and harder to find magazines, especially in New York, and I never seemed to have one in my hand when I wanted to read one. And carrying around my device and just loading the app, I was suddenly able to read things that I hadn’t in months. There was everything I loved about Real Simple at my fingertips; there was The New Yorker; Vogue; just everything. And I think it made me actually an even more diverse reader, for instance, the app’s connection and our relationship with Rogers Communications, which is one of our owners; I was going to read Maclean’s and Maclean’s take on the U.S. election is fascinating.

So, I think that we’re moving to a more accepting place, that this is one way that we have our phones with us all the time and I can’t count on always being able to find a magazine in paper, but I can truly always have a magazine at my disposal thanks to the app.

Samir Husni: Do you think that the experience changes; do you get the same feeling when you’re flipping through the pages of a magazine, feeling the weight of Vogue in your hand, as opposed to not feeling the weight? Does that make a difference in that experience?

Maggie Murphy: I look at that question very differently than some do. I would often hear readers penalize magazines because they weren’t thick, even though the content was good, if not better, and the reason they weren’t thick anymore may have had to do with, not the status or the quality of the work, but because of the way the advertising industry had changed.

And I feel a digital experience delivers to me quality content, and the second thing about it is that I can share that content. I’m running around over time; I’m trying to simplify my life, and I come across a story in Marie Claire that I really think my niece would love, I can send that to her in one step.

I think you’re going to have people who will always love the feel of paper; they appreciate it, but the reality is that when it comes to the visual experience, the iPad does a wonderful job of giving me a beautiful image of National Geographic. It looks as vibrant on the screen as when I would produce a magazine.

That was always actually really interesting; we would use E-readers, as everybody does, to check proofs. You go through the magazine in your last hours before you pushed the button and you’d flip through it. It’s the last stage most editors go through. And the colors were always so vibrant. And sometimes paper would not always print as we’d hoped. And for me, I feel the transition is here and the up side of it is tremendous. The availability; the grasp and the range that is always with me outweigh any charm of having a bundled-up magazine or newspaper in my pocket.

Samir Husni: Last May I took a group of my students to New York and we attended a conference where one magazine publisher after another said that the tablet was dead; the homepage was dead, and it was now all about mobile, videos and notifications. Do you agree with that statement?

Maggie Murphy: (Laughs) No, I don’t.

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Maggie Murphy: I think just like the lyrics in one Bruce Springsteen song says: everything that dies one day grows back. I believe there was incredible bitterness and disappointment in the arrival of the tablet and how it was supposed to save magazines, and unfortunately that wasn’t the case. But I think there was too much too soon, before the reader was ready. And I don’t believe the technology was as nimble as our ambitions.

But now as we move toward something that looks more like a phablet, you know it’s not that far from a mini iPad; I feel that the ultimate reason I don’t agree with that statement is that the magazine-reading experience, that narrative, is told with pictures and words over a period of a few minutes or in the case of The Atavist’s Mastermind, which we debuted recently, over a number of weeks, is so well-suited for this device.

We took content and tried to just add to it and move it onto the tablet and it didn’t work at first, but a lot of things don’t work at first. And then later they work better. And also other things that people have said died came back, vinyl, for example. I don’t think we’ve quite figured out what magazine making transforms into with these new devices. And what these new devices will be. We’re going to have a digital reader of some kind. Now, for some people it’s going to be their phone and with others it may be the new Amazon reader which our app is now available on that product.

I read somewhere that there are 40 million magazine subscribers. I don’t have to get all of them; I’d love to have all of them, if everyone downloaded the app, think of all of the trees that we’d save; it would be fabulous. However, I do think that I can get a good portion of those people. I think we can get people who are magazine readers and who are tired of subscribing to a magazine for $10 or $15 and getting a blow card from them. We bring real value. I want culturally-curated content; I want to read.

And that’s what was so revelatory for me when I rediscovered the app in the spring when John Loughlin, our CEO, reached out to me and said he might be looking for an editor to help curate this. After months and months of working in blogs, I appreciate getting content quick and readily because I want to read stories. I still think magazines, hands-down, deliver that better than any other medium.

The challenge of magazines these days is that we’re delivering them the same way that we did 50 years ago. There’s a guy with a truck and a newsstand (Laughs); it’s not an efficient way. This is a good way. I believe there will always be things that you want on paper, but I don’t think that means that we can’t have this experience digitally.

It is almost impossible to find a newsstand in New York that allows you to browse. At supermarkets and drug chains, they’ve moved those pockets and magazine racks to the back or the side of the store. Sometimes, with the weeklies, it’s hard to figure out if that’s the old cover or the new cover. What’s dying is the 50-plus-year-old newsstand delivery system, not the value of the words, the images, the content, or the editorial packaging that makes a magazine, a magazine. People still love magazines. But it’s like the opening of The Six Million Dollar Man: we can deliver them better and faster than we did before. Most people who try Texture are blown away by what they get. Our stats show that users come in for a magazine and are sampling content they never knew they would enjoy. They double and triple their magazine-reading time. We are addictive and habit- forming. And we are the ultimate de-clutterer. What’s not to love?

And I do think it’s a different type of story. If you talk to people, there is content on a website and there is content in a magazine; it’s very different skills that produce each. They’re all very important; one is not superior to the other.

The question is how do we make money and that’s one of the things about this app. It allows magazines to make money off of traditional structures in a digital way and because the advertising is included it can count towards someone’s rate base, and also by paying through that monthly fee, the magazines get a portion of that every month. So, there is a new revenue stream here. It’s very small today, but I don’t think that it’s going to stay that way.

Samir Husni: What’s the total number of magazines that are available on the app now?

Maggie Murphy: We’re closing in on 200 magazines and recently we added the Reader’s Digest team, along with The Atavist, so we’re covering from every spectrum. And we have all of the partners’ brands, so that’s all of the magazines from Time Inc., from Sports Illustrated to People to EW and of course Time magazine. We have Condé Nast and all of their brands, such as Bon Appétit, Vogue and The New Yorker. We have all of Hearst’s wonderful titles, like Marie Claire, Esquire, Town & Country and we have titles outside our partners. We have hundreds of magazines, literally thousands of articles and I’m really excited by what I get to read. It’s a small team, myself and two other editors, and each day we read as much as we can and really overlap interesting stories.

I was just reading Rolling Stone’s cover story on Bernie versus Hillary. There was the Chatelaine story about whether or not we’re drinking too much. (Laughs) And there was a beautiful piece in Time recently from Patti Davis about her mom, Nancy Reagan, and these are things that we can call out. It’s a great opportunity to curate amazing content.

Samir Husni: Describe the difference between what you did as editor of Parade, where you were assigning stories and creating content, to where you are now, curating content. How do you feel your job has changed?

Maggie Murphy: Today Texture isn’t creating content, but I don’t think that’s off the table. I believe that could be a long-term goal and I especially think as we look at how wonderful things like The Atavist’s Mastermind is doing, that’s a model that we’re intrigued by.

Fundamentally, when I said that I wanted to be a journalist, to me, that meant that I wanted to work in magazines and I am working in magazines. And I think I’m working in magazines at a time and with a platform that shows a different way to go forward. And potentially, in a way that can really become an incredibly engaging business for people who want to read researched, visually enticing, reported narratives.

And we see the quest and the desire to read stories of substance; stories of consequence. And stories that are really helpful. Brands with consumer reports do wonderfully in our app. Service stories do terrific. And we can not only give people Real Simple’s tips for declaring this week, but we can package together their content dating back until 2012 and we can do this for magazine editors themselves, where it’s difficult sometimes to go back and ask, didn’t we do this story a few years back? With the touch of their fingertips, they can search these brands. So, if you’re interested in planning an Italian vacation, through our search you can get stories from Afar and Condé Nast Traveler and many others.

I love magazine making and I would so like to continue in some creative outlet, but I had always envisioned that my next career would be a librarian. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Maggie Murphy: But I’m sitting here every day and all of these wonderful stories are coming in and I can ask people, have you read this story or that terrific story? It’s just very exciting every single day. It’s like Christmas. I open it up and say: oh my gosh, Esquire is dropping, this is so exciting. We get so thrilled when GQ is coming in.

And one of the other things that we’re able to do with our partners is early access, so for instance, on the Thursday before Vanity Fair dropped its amazing Jennifer Garner story, we saw an early version of that story and Condé Nast was so wonderful to give it to us early on Friday. So, we had that story simultaneously with the same time their website had it. Our subscribers got to read it with the pictures and in the way that the content makers had developed it. And of course, it was mutually engaging and I got to say that I had just read the story and it was amazing.

Samir Husni: Why do I have to pay money to access Texture when I can get the same content if I go to Vanity Fair?

Maggie Murphy: I think that’s one of the things that we’d like to encourage with magazine makers. Most content that appears in magazines is not on the website. They’re different formats. Most magazines aren’t putting the content that they are developing for their print brands online, some of it appears, some of it doesn’t, but if it’s behind a paywall, it’s there. I think that’s one of the issues that is still being navigated. I could see why a brand would want to put a hot story out there, but we’re offering a different way to give people access to that in a way that allows us to continue to do those stories.

If the entire business had it to do over again, would we follow the same path of just repurposing our content and putting it online? I think what we realized is that it doesn’t work as well as content that was made for digital. It’s a different format. A website and what you’re looking for online is very different than the print experience and what you’re aiming to learn when you sit down and read a magazine.

What we believe is for someone who is looking for that magazine experience, and people love magazines; what we’re saying is this is a way to get all of them at your fingertips, just like there is in a Netflix model or a satellite radio model and there’s a fee for that so that we can make sure that we can continue to pay for it and continue a revenue model.

That’s one of the things that we’d like to see. We’d like to see more and more access simultaneously and eventually the partners will have to kind of come to terms on how they want to distribute their content. But we think that this is a viable alternative to subscription and giving people something behind a paywall.

Recently, I went downstairs and got a free cup of coffee at the hotel. It hit the spot. It did the job. But it’s not like my venti Pike from Starbucks. Which I not only enjoy, I savor. It makes me feel satisfied and happy. I pay $4 a day for that experience. That’s valuable to me because it brings me joy. There is a lot of good content out there for free. But I want great content. That brings me joy. For our premium subscription, that’s roughly 50 cents a day, I am able to read a New Yorker story, a Popular Mechanics feature; introduce my daughter to Cricket or National Geographic, and still check out “Stars Like Us” and that’s a great value. Yes, I can do that on the web, but it’s not a singular storefront. Plus, once I am in the store, there’s something new to read or investigate, whether it’s a recipe or a travel story. And we’re doing more early access to content. Whether that was Jennifer Garner’s Vanity Fair cover story or a first look at EW’s David Bowie issue.

The truth is most magazines do not end up putting all of the brand’s content on the website. What works on a website, for the most part, is a different type of story, just as newspaper stories were different than magazine stories. I do believe there are readers who don’t feel strongly about the difference and will never pay for content again. Post-recession, it’s just not what they do. You can see that in the decline of the gossips. But I do believe there is a reader who wants a reading experience beyond listicles and bulleted pieces. There are many blogs I enjoy, but I don’t want every experience through a personal lens. I want to read that richly reported piece. I want the fact-checked recipe from Bon Appétit.

Digitally, brands like The Atavist are exploring magazine long-form—and that’s what makes our partnership with them so exciting. But we showcase stories on Texture that might not get showcased elsewhere. There was a wonderful essay from Self last month that we featured in our New & Noteworthy that might not have been seen outside the confines of the print product if you didn’t have a subscription to the magazine. I would say that Texture is a new way for brands that are beloved and have been part of the fabric of American life to thrive digitally, separate from their web and mobile-based experiences. I don’t know her, but Kate Lewis of Hearst said something that I think is spot on: “Print tells me what’s next. Digital tells me what’s now.” I think many, many readers still want to learn what’s next, and magazines (on paper or in Texture) still do that better than any other medium. Put another way: Think about filmed content. You can have it delivered on network, on cable, in pay-per-view, or via YouTube. And many other ways. The publishing industry has finally caught up to the television industry in providing many varied content experiences: on paper, on web, through mobile, social, vlog, blog, and in app via Texture. Among others being invented as we speak.

Samir Husni: If you and I are having this same conversation a year from now; what do you hope that you can tell me you have accomplished during that year?

Maggie Murphy: That’s a really good question. The biggest problem we face right now is just that people don’t know that we exist. We’re doing our very best to get the message out there. We’re working with our owners, who have been incredibly supportive by really investing in the brand, and really updating it. We’re working on a mobile adaptive so that we’re really able to deliver magazine content in a mobile-friendly manner for the phablet that is to come. And I think it’s just really giving magazine lovers choice, of saying here’s another way. There is paper; there is the website, and there is a magazine app that is a Spotify for magazines; a Netflix for magazines, for those people out there who want this experience, but want it in a more convenient, on-the-go way.

Samir Husni: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and take on the day?

Maggie Murphy: I still get to discover great stories; that’s what I like about it. I was talking to friends one day and they asked me why I got into this business. I simply told them: I love magazines. I thought it would be cool to work on magazines.

And today I’m not working on simply one; I’m working on 200 of them. I want to see these magazines succeed. From the way that they are put into the app; the way pulling out a story delivers a message; to the push notifications. We’re championing great reading. And our readers are responding. The Texture reader is cultured, curious; they have high incomes and they really love this kind of content. I feel like I’m championing great content, which is what I always wanted to do. So, when you’re doing something that really speaks to your core, you feel it’s important. And I do. I feel that this is important.

I have had a tremendous career working at some of the best brands that gave ever been around. And I have many, many friends who are in their 20s and 30s who really love magazine making. And for me, I think this is a way forward. The technology will get better; the organization and what-belongs-where will get better and the support of the companies has just been fantastic. I think that there’s nowhere to go but up. I don’t believe that this is the death of something; I think it’s the beginning of something. And I think that’s where we need to not to be negative. As magazine editors, there are new ways to deliver our content. And that’s what we are: a new way. And it’s really a fun experience. Just this morning, I read Rolling Stone and Esquire; both before breakfast. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: On Spotify I listen to a complete song; Netflix, I watch a complete movie; are we changing the experience when you actually sell a story, rather than a complete magazine experience; instead, you are selling segments of that experience. Are you in the sampling business or the entire content business?

Maggie Murphy: I would flip that question first; one of the main ways people read many brands is cover to cover. They’ll go into the app, they love the magazines that are their favorites, and they read cover to cover and we see that in our data. However, by offering them singles, we’re potentially offering them the chance to sample something that they might not. And in fact, one of the more interesting aspects after the horrible Paris attacks; we collected stories together about how Islamic terrorism might have come to Paris. And there’s a piece from The New Yorker and a piece from Time about why did this happen; what’s going on. And there was a piece from Vogue about the wives and female jihadists. And a number of people said to me: I would have expected that piece from The New Yorker; I would have expected that piece from Time, but I didn’t know that was in Vogue, and it gave me a new appreciation of Vogue.

And that I believe is what we’re doing. There are people who love albums and love the entire experience. And there are people who love the entire magazine and want it cover to cover, but I listen to music sometimes one at a time. Give me a great Pop song, and then I might take two or three. I like to sample and then commit. I think you’re going to have both types of readers; you’re going to have every type of reader. There’s enough content and I would say that this is the multiplex and we’re offering trailers. Here’s a taste of this, you might like that. Being able to deliver that overtime builds discovery. We believe that we can build discovery with this model, while we’re still serving the person who wants to read their magazine cover to cover and have that unique experience.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Maggie Murphy: People believing that the only way to get great magazine content is a website; that’s not the case anymore. We’re here; we have a great product and it’s improving every single day and I just want more people to know about it.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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The 30 Hottest Magazine Launches of the Past 30 Years…

March 7, 2016
The 30 Hottest Magazine Launches of the Last 30 Years to be published April 14. The book is published by the Magazine Innovation Center in partnership with min (media industry newsletter) and is sponsored by Fry Communications.

The 30 Hottest Magazine Launches of the Last 30 Years to be published April 14. The book is published by the Magazine Innovation Center in partnership with min (media industry newsletter) and is sponsored by Fry Communications.

The last 30 years in the life of American magazines were, to say the least, the best and the worst of years. The era from 1985 to 2015 was described as the golden age of American magazines and also as the changing age of American magazines. Definitions changed, publishing companies changed, and what used to be described as magazines only, is now known as magazine media.

However, one thing did not change. New magazines, those bundles of pure reading joy that continue to arrive in the marketplace, were hot in 1985 and they were still just as hot in 2015.

A total of 23,318 new magazines arrived at the nation’s newsstands during those last 30 years from which 9,828 titles were born with the intention to publish at least four times a year, and if I may add, I have each and every one of those 23,318 titles.

In 2015 and from those 9,828 frequency titles, I started the task of identifying the 30 hottest titles of the last 30 years. It was no easy feat and I’m sure that the majority would agree that the distinguished titles chosen are well deserving of the Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 5.54.26 PMhonor; however, I also know that some will name other magazines that should reside on that list. But there were benchmarks that had to be met in order to be a part of the stellar lineup.

Here are some of the criteria I used when choosing those titles:

1. The magazine must have been continuously published since its inceptionScreen Shot 2016-03-06 at 6.00.57 PM
2. The magazine must have been in business since at least 2012
3. The magazine must have either broken new ground or entered a very competitive market and thrived in it
4. The magazine must have transferred from a magazine to a brand
5. The magazine must have extended its reach beyond the ink and paper and/or created other entities based on its DNA
6. The magazine crossed the borders of the United States and created international editions worldwide
7. The magazine today is a force to contend with in its specific category of publishing

Achieving five of the seven mentioned criteria assured the magazine a spot on the list of the hottest magazines of the last 30 years.

For me, someone who loves and encourages every new magazine equally, this was an extremely arduous task to accomplish. It’s hard to differentiate among your children (and all new magazines are like my children to me), but at the end of the day choices had to be made. But I assure you, I am as proud of the entire 9,828 titles that were born with frequency as I am of the 30 chosen.

From individual entrepreneurs who launched their titles with nothing but the passion in their hearts, to the large magazine media companies we all trust and love to bring us the best in magazine reading, the 30 titles chosen are but a small representation of a still-thriving, still-kicking magazine and magazine media industry. Let us all celebrate the entire industry as we honor these 30 titles.

And the celebration of those 30 magazines will take place in New York City at the min 30 event on  April 14.  To register for the event click here.

And now for the 30 hottest magazine launches of the last 30 years:

Cooking Light-2Dwell-4ELLE-2Entertainment Weekly-8ESPN-1Fast Company-3First for Women-2Food Network-5Garden & Gun-12Highlights High Five-1InStyle-1InTouch-9Marie Claire-6Living-5Men's Health-11Mental Flos-4MORE-3New Beauty-2O The Oprah-13OUT-7ESCVR04_EAST_1_print.pdfRachael Ray-3Real Simple-8A Taste of Home-1Teen Vogue-6THE WEEKCMKYWebMDCYMKWired-7Women's Health-10WSJ 72-2 (2)

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